Four rhinos were brutally killed by poachers, including one pregnant female. A fifth was also shot with a gun to the head. This was done to make some cash.
In an attempt to save one rhino, the gang made use of high-powered rifles with silencers that could be used to kill them.
Poaching took place at Inverdoorn Game Reserve, near Ceres in Klein Karoo. This is a distance of two and a half hours from Cape Town. It angered wildlife staff.
A routine sweep was conducted by the Anti-Poaching Patrol on Wednesday night of the reserve’s 10,000 hectares. This is where the Big 5 (elk, rhino, buffalo and leopard) are found.
They found the remains of two dead rhinos at 10.30pm. Two more were also nearby, one pregnant.
The fifth member of the group was reported missing, but it was found hours later. He was severely wounded from gunshot wounds to his head and was still breathing.
Four rhinos were brutally killed by poachers at private game reserves, including one pregnant female. A fifth was wounded with a gunshot to the head. This was to make their horns more valuable for money.
In vain, the gang made use of high-powered rifles with silencers in order to slaughter the herd. They even cut off a prosthetic fibreglass hair that was attached to one rhino to save it.
Two of the rhinos were severely wounded by poaching and two died quickly from bullet injuries.
A fifth rhino, which sustained a serious gunshot wound, has been able to survive two nights. Vets and rangers are monitoring it closely and waiting for the time when they can dart it or treat its injuries.
The gang sawed off at least the three biggest front horns and on the black market the haul could be worth over £350,000 but the poachers will get a pittance from the king pins.
Searl Derman, Inverdoorn’s owner stated that all staff members and managers as well as those working on rhino patrol were severely traumatized. The horn was even removed from our female pregnant friend’.
Owner of Aquila Game reserve, Mr Derman lost his two rhinos to poachers in 2011. They were macheted to death and dehorned.
Mr Derman said: ‘I’m horrified to now be reliving the nightmare of Aquila at Inverdoorn and I am offering R100,000 (£5000) for information that leads us to the poachers.
“This happens when the SA wildlife tourism market is being decimated due to an ongoing and unjustified ban on international travel that brings in revenue to conserve wildlife.
“As we did in Aquila’s previous poaching scandal, we will not spare any effort to find and prosecute the criminals responsible for the massacre of our rhinos.
Inverdoorn was known for their groundbreaking technique of replacing rhinos with synthetic ones by dehorning them. They also posted it around the reserve with signs, but this attempt to save endangered species seems to have failed.
An anti-poaching team at Inverdoorn Game Reserve found the bodies of two shot rhinos around 10:30pm on Wednesday and then found two other wounded close by, including a pregnant female
While the Anti-Poaching Team called in Veterinary Experts Wednesday Night to help three critically injured rhinos, two of these were not able to be saved. They died shortly after receiving high quality bullet wounds.
Inverdoorn was the first to dehorne some rhinos and replace them with synthetic ones. They also promoted it by placing signs all around the reserve.
According to Mr Derman, “We had hoped that it would discourage poachers. But it didn’t.” The poachers killed one of the realistic fibreglass horns, but it was still taken and used to kill another.
Johan van Schalwyk was the spokesperson for Aquila, which includes both reserves. He stated that this nightmare came at a horrible time for the private sector’s game reserve industry.
“This should be our most festive time, but world travel bans have hampered South Africa’s tourism sector and private game reserves.
“The tourism industry is in decline and private game reserves are being forced to kill wild animals or reduce their staff to make ends meet.”
A rhino horn can sell for up to as much as £75,000 a kilo in countries like China and Vietnam. Poachers may even attempt to kill the mother rhino before her calves in order to steal her horns. Many orphans were found trying to nurse their horns from their broken bodies.
Four large seizures of smuggled rhino horns have been made in the last four years at the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg worth £12m on the black market.
South Africa hosts 80 percent of the world’s rhino populations. Despite only 200 remaining white rhinos in 1970, intense conservation efforts have led to their increase to 18,000
However, they remain endangered because of poaching. In 2018, 769 were poached and in 2019, 594 were poached. The 2020 official numbers show a significant drop of 394.
This drop was not only due to effective anti-poaching, but also because of a shift from smuggling Horns to tobacco during the lockdown.
The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries spokesmen. They stated that poachers were prevented from moving about at night, which was a great relief for many.
The gang sawed off at least the three of the biggest front horns on the rhinos and on the black market the haul could be worth over £350,000 but the poachers will get a pittance from the king pins
On Wednesday night, the anti-poaching team was on routine patrol of 10,000 hectares of reserve where they found dead rhinos.
In September on World Rhino Day 2500 rhino horns, with a black market value of £60million, were burned on a pyre in India to send an anti-poaching message to the world.
Rhinohorn is made from keratin, which is a protein that is found in finger nails of humans. Many Far Easterners believe it can treat hangovers and impotence.
Johan van Schalwyk is the group manager at Aquilla Collection. He said that he couldn’t believe anyone could believe these stupidities in today’s world.
“We lost three rhinos males and a pregnant woman in the barbaric attack. However, we still have an injured female wild that is in very stable condition.
“Our veterinarian team is watching her, letting her relax and have some food before moving in to treat bullet wounds and dart her.
“We do not release any details about the size or composition of the gang that we track, however the shell indicates that the weapon was a silenced assault rifle 416.
“For obvious reasons, we don’t reveal the number of rhinos in our reserves. However, we do have a healthy amount. But when it happens like this, it can be devastating for all.
“The people who care for our animals don’t work 9-5. They have to be there 24/7. It is a passion, a life, and it has hit them hard. Now they must deal with it.
“But, we will lift ourselves up, continue, and take the bad people responsible.”