The number of rhinos that die because of poaching could be 25-30 per cent higher than the official figures indicate, which would bring this year’s rhino kill tally to over 1 400.
Suzanne Boswell, from non-profit organisation Saving the Survivors, told defenceWeb that rhino calves that die due to mothers being poached are not included in official poaching statistics. Rhinos that have died during attempted poaching (such as those that die but their horns are not removed) are not included in the statistics either.
For example, last month Boswell said her organisation received a rhino cow that died on the operating table after being shot in the knee when her mate was poached and horns cut off, but the cow’s death won’t be included in the official poaching statistics.
It is estimated that 25-30% of rhinos have a calf at foot and given some simple extrapolation, the total rhino death tally is at least a third higher than officially reported.
Boswell told defenceWeb that it is common for rhino calves to be left to fend for themselves after their mothers have been shot, resulting in almost certain death as calves rely on their mother’s milk until they are 18 months old.
However, Saving the Survivors (savingthesurvivors.co.za) is taking on an increasing number of injured orphaned and adult rhinos and giving them a second chance. Saving the Survivors is not an anti-poaching organisation. It was specifically started in 2012 to care and look after rhinos that have fallen victim to poaching or traumatic incidents. This includes rhinos that have been wounded, rhinos where the horn has been hacked off, and victims of snaring and traumatic incidents. The first survivor to be treated by Saving the Survivors, a cow named Thandi, is pregnant and due to drop her calf in January or February next year.
Between 80 and 120 rhinos are estimated to benefit from the project every year but this number will increase as the amount of poached rhinos is rising. Saving the Survivors is headed up by the two top veterinary surgeons in South Africa, Dr Johan Marais and Dr Gerhard Steenkamp.
Whilst a few of these animals are brought in to Onderstepoort, most are being treated in the bush in their normal environment as transporting these injured animals is often not possible or feasible.
As of 27 November this year, 1 051 rhino carcasses have been found in South Africa, including 698 in the Kruger National Park. This compares to 1 004 for last year, according to figures provided by the Focus Africa Foundation Anti-Rhino Poaching Campaign. Around 340 people have been arrested in connection with rhino poaching.
However, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has said there has been a major increase in poaching this month, with over 50 rhinos being poached in December. Indications are that 1 116 rhinos have been killed in South Africa as of December 10.
Due to the increase in poaching in the Kruger National Park, rhinos are being relocated to a recently established intensive protection zone deeper in the park and away from the porous 350 km border with Mozambique, from where most poachers originate – it is estimated that 600 poachers crossed into the Kruger from Mozambique in November. Over 30 relocations have taken place since last month, reports CNN.
Pic: Rhino calf Manji was weeks old when his mother was killed for her horn. The poachers also hacked off his horn and injured his head above the eye, but he survived. To support Manji and the other rhinos rescued by Saving the Survivors or to undertake a corporate sponsorship, further details can be obtained by emailing [email protected]
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