Pregnant rhino killed

Poachers have already slaughtered seven in little more than two months

THE arrival of specialised teams to combat increased rhino poaching in the Eastern Cape came too late for a heavily pregnant rhino and a male calf, butchered for their horns near Graaff-Reinet this week.

Their slaughter brings the rhino death toll in the province to a staggering seven in barely more than the first two months of the year.

Another rhino was shot in a prior incident, but managed to escape before his horns were hacked off. The toll for all of last year was 15. A post-mortem by renowned wildlife vet Will Fowlds at Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve soon after the rhinos were found dead on Tuesday morning, concluded that the mother was just two weeks away from giving birth.

The baby was dead when Fowlds removed it.

Iain Buchanan – whose family owns the reserve – fought back tears yesterday as he told of the heartbreak when they discovered that the rhino had been heavily pregnant when she was killed.

“[The newborn calf’s] skin was so soft, just like a human child. He had perfect and pristine features,” he said.

The attack was the third incident in less than a year at the reserve and came despite increased patrols by ex-soldiers.

“The guys involved were devastated. It is their job to protect the rhino,” Buchanan said.