Aron Hyman

09 December 2021 – 16:28

Image: Inverdoorn Game Farm
Poachers behind the Wednesday night massacre of four rhinos at Inverdoorn private game reserve north of Cape Town sawed off a fake and worthless fibreglass horn from one of the animals they shot.

In a press release on Thursday, Inverdoorn owner Searl Derman said he and the reserve’s management and staff were traumatised after an anti-poaching patrol found the rhinos. One was pregnant and had her horns hacked off.

Derman said he was “horrified to relive this nightmare”, referring to a 2011 rhino-poaching incident at the nearby Aquila private game reserve, which he also owns.

The reserve is offering a R100,000 reward for anyone with confidential information which could lead to the successful prosecution of the poachers.

Derman said the incident came when the wildlife tourism industry was being decimated by “continued unjustified international travel bans”.

According to the press statement, Inverdoorn’s 24-hour anti-poaching unit raised the alarm at 10.30pm on Wednesday. The team found two dead rhinos and two that had survived serious injuries.

One of the rhinos had a synthetic horn, which is worthless to the poachers.

“The team acted fast as a fifth rhino was missing, and tracking operations were immediately activated on the 10,000ha reserve while the management, conservation teams, wildlife veterinarians, law enforcement and others were notified and dispatched to the scene,” read the statement.

Large-calibre rifle rounds from silenced weapons were identified on the scene.

“Sadly, the anti-poaching unit soon confirmed the death of the two injured rhinos. According to management, one of the killed females was pregnant,” read the statement.

At about 2am on Thursday, an anti-poaching team found the fifth “painfully injured” female rhino that was shot in the face.

Derman said that as with the previous poaching incident at Aquila they would again commit to “sparing no expense or effort in the pursuit to catch and bring justice to these vicious perpetrators who massacred our rhino”.

He added: “We are starting by offering a R100,000 reward for confidential information that will lead to the successful arrest of the criminals that brought much heartache and loss to the staff and management of this reserve.”

The statement said Inverdoorn had previously performed a ground-breaking technique of dehorning some of their rhino and replacing the horns with synthetic ones.

It was hoped that this widely publicised technique, together with signage on the reserve fencing, would deter poachers. It did not. “One of the slaughtered rhino had a realistic and lifelike fibreglass horn with zero value to these poachers,” read the statement.