Rietvlei shocked as ‘oldest resident’ Ma Kooi killed
WHEN former Pretoria News chief photographer Patricia Hagen took her children to Rietvlei Nature Reserve on Friday, she hoped to spot the cheetah Kiara and her cubs.
Instead, a line of police cars and a posse in the veld drew her to the killing site of one of the reserve’s oldest residents, a rhino know as Ma Kooi.
The City of Tshwane, under which the reserve falls, confirmed that the carcass of the female rhino, believed to be over 40 years old, was discovered on Friday by personnel in the reserve. It is believed the rhino had been shot and killed three or four days earlier.
Agriculture and environment management MMC Michael Mkhari said it appeared that the poachers had been unaware that the rhino did not have a horn as it, and other rhinos in Rietvlei, are dehorned.
He said the incident had been reported to the SAPS, and investigations, with the assistance of a veterinarian and officials from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, were under way.
A case of malicious damage to property and discharge of a firearm is also being investigated by the Lyttelton police for an earlier incident on July 1.
“The rhino was found limping, and upon close examination, it was discovered that it was shot and wounded in a possible poaching attempt,” police said. The rhino survived.
Rietvlei, a reserve within the borders of Pretoria, is much loved by its residents for its easy access to game. The city management dehorns the rhinos in the reserve, with the last round done just a few months back.
Friends of the reserve on social media were asking for identifying photos of the rhinos to check on them, while others expressed concern.
Hagen said in a heartfelt Facebook post that she and her children were shattered by what they saw. “My depression deepens when contemplating rhinos’ chances of survival and the knowledge that they will never be safe, no matter what.”
Hagen, a respected animal photographer, said she would be thankful for every single rhino that she manages to see and take photos of.
Mkhari said the city was dismayed that Rietvlei was being targeted again despite their efforts to prevent poaching by dehorning the animals.
No arrests had been made but the city has beefed up security at the reserve.
It does, however, remain open to the public.
In May last year, the reserve was closed to the public following the slaughter and dehorning of two of its rhinos, one of which was pregnant at the time.
In October 2013, five heavily armed suspected rhino poachers were arrested just as they were about to enter the reserve. Three years before that, two rhinos were killed by poachers.
Recently, however, it had been felt the rhinos were not under threat, and when a rhino cow was not seen for a period, it turned out to be because she had delivered a calf.
The Stop Rhino Poaching website listed the number of rhino mortalities at 483 as of June 13, as announced in the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife communications manager Musa Mntambo has confirmed that two suspected poachers were killed at the weekend in a gunbattle with rangers at the Hluhluwe uMfolozi Park.