HISTORY was made in the Kouga on Tuesday morning when 10 rhinos on Lombardini Game Farm were dehorned.This was the first time in the area that rhinos were dehorned on a private game farm.
Owner Johan Lottering says after three unsuccessful poaching attempts, they decided to dehorn the rhinos to safeguard them.
“It is sad to go to such extreme methods to save the animals’ lives. We were lucky to have received a tip-off about the poaching attempts and could prevent it,” says Lottering.
Dr Thys Potgieter from Alexandria, a game expert, was in charge of the dehorning process.
The rhinos were anaesthetised individually with a dart, and their eyes were covered before the process began. The vet then established where to cut off the horn with a chainsaw. If the horn is cut off at the right place, it will grow again – about 12cm per year.
After the horn was cut off, the vet gave the rhino an antidote and soon they were on their feet again. The whole process, from the first dart to when the antidote takes effect, lasted no more than 10 minutes.
The horns cannot be sold and will be in safe custody in a bank in Port Elizabeth.
Lottering says: “If we could sell the horns, we could utilise the money to safeguard the rhinos, by installing cameras, putting up more fences and/or appointing more guards. But owners get no money for it.
“I wish they would encourage controlled dehorning – that will take the sting out of poaching.
“The rhino’s horn is their tool, their hands, now we are forced to take that away from them to protect them from the heartless poachers.
“They use their horns to loosen grass, to help their young – just as we use our hands, they use their horns.”
Department of Environmental Affairs officer Hennie Swanevelder collected specimens from the rhinos to build up a database.
All the horns were chipped – if they were to be stolen the culprits can be traced.
A rhino horn can be sold for about R480000 per kg. An adult rhino horn weighs about 5kg and will be sold for approximately R2.3-million. Lombardini has 13 rhinos. According to Lottering, five baby rhinos were born there over the last four years.