Herald Live

Two more rhinos killed by poachers

Reserves across province on high alert after third Cradock incident

Four rhinos have been poached on two different Eastern Cape reserves this month alone. The latest poaching took place on a reserve on the outskirts of Cradock at the weekend with two rhinos killed, only one of which was dehorned.

The devastated owner, who asked that neither he nor his reserve be named as his family feared further attacks, said the incident happened some time between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

“We came across the carcasses lying not far from one of the roads. They had been shot with a rifle and were not darted.

“Only one of the rhinos was dehorned and we suspect the other managed to stumble away after being shot.

“This led to them either not having time to locate the second rhino or they could not find it in the dark,” he said.

“It appears that they gained entry to the property by cutting through the perimeter fence.”

Asked about possible future attacks, he said: “I don’t think they are going to stop until they get caught, which means all rhino owners are on constant alert.

“There is always a fear of other syndicates now targeting the reserve as we know there are more than one moving around the country.”

The game farm owner said he was aware of rhino owners around the country selling their animals due to the high security risk they brought.

“You must understand that families who live on these reserves are also now living in fear.

“Because there is such a high reward and fairly low risk for these poachers, it poses a massive security risk not only to the animals but people living on the farms,” he said.

He said several reserves across the province had been made aware of the latest poaching and were on high alert.

This marks the fifth rhino to be killed in three separate attacks on the reserve.

In March 2016, a nine-month-old calf was orphaned on the game farm after two adult rhinos were killed.

A month later poachers struck again, killing an adult cow and leaving her three-month-old calf orphaned.

“We are constantly doing patrols and beefing up our security but at the end of the day, these poachers find a way. It is infuriating,” he said.

About three weeks ago, two white rhinos were poached on a reserve between Bedford and Grahamstown.

Only one had been dehorned and the other was still staggering around after being wounded, but was later euthanised.

All the rhino poaching cases are being investigated by the specialist Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit.

Yesterday it emerged that seven dead rhino were found on Kwazulu-Natal’s Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve last week.

Last year, 12 rhinos were killed in the Eastern Cape, compared with 19 killed in 2016.

Police spokeswoman Colonel Sibongile Soci said the case was under investigation by the specialist Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit.