Rhino calf and mother butchered in KZN

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - NEWS - Tony Carnie

RHINO horn butch­ers snuck into a game cap­ture boma early yes­ter­day to shoot and hack off the horns of a cap­tive rhino calf and its mother in the flag­ship Hluh­luwe-Im­folozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal.

Four sources told TMG Dig­i­tal that a gang of four gun­men tied up and over­pow­ered an armed guard be­fore shoot­ing the rhino mother and calf‚ hack­ing off their horns and then dis­ap­pear­ing into the night.

On Mon­day scores of visi­tors had flocked to the cap­ture bo­mas to view 10 adult rhi­nos and five calves that were about to be sold at a pub­lic auc­tion by Ezemvelo KZN Widlife.

The cap­ture bo­mas‚ where an­i­mals are held be­hind sturdy wood-pole stock­ades‚ con­tained at least 20 rhi­nos — in­clud­ing sev­eral baby rhi­nos or­phaned by re­cent poach­ing — along with dozens of other wild an­i­mals such as buff­falo‚ nyala and‚ hippo.

Ini­tial re­ports sug­gest that the gun­men ar­rived at about 2am‚ then over­pow­er­ing at least one armed guard be­fore shoot­ing and killing a rhino cow and calf that were sold to pri­vate buy­ers on auc­tion ear­lier in the week.

Although no ar­rests have been re­ported yet‚ ques­tions have been raised about the state of security mea­sures at the cap­ture bo­mas fol­low­ing a se­ries of sweep­ing State fi­nan­cial cut­backs for Ezemvelo.

Ezemvelo didn’t re­spond im­me­di­ately queries about the at­tack on the Hluh­luwe-Im­folozi cap­ture boma.

The in­ci­dent fol­lows a re­cent at­tack on or­phan rhi­nos at the pri­vately-owned Thula-Thula rhino or­phan­age in KwaZulu-Natal in March and the killing of a cap­tive rhino at a Paris zoo two months ago.

More than a thou­sand wild rhi­nos were slaugh­tered by poach­ers na­tion­wide last year. The un­re­lent­ing massacre of South Africa’s rhi­nos es­ca­lated sharply from 2008.

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