By Tony Carnie
A nine-month-old white rhino, orphaned when its mother was shot dead in Opathe Game Reserve, is being nursed back to health by wildlife staff – the latest target of a poaching spree that led to three more rhino carcasses being found in kwaZulu-Natal at the weekend.
The calf went unfed for several days and received a serious eye injury when the poachers threw rocks at the young animal to drive it away from its mother’s carcass so they could hack off the horns.
More than 12 rhinos have been killed in the Opathe/ Emakhosini reserve near Ulundi in 2010.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife chief executive Bandile Mkhize confirmed on Monday night that two white rhinos were found dead at the weekend, close to the corridor road that passes between the Hluhluwe and Imfolozi game reserves, while the carcass of a third was recovered in the wilderness zone at Imfolozi.
Mkhize said 18 more field rangers had been employed at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi to crack down on rhino poaching. Anti-poaching unit patrols were also pursuing a group of suspected rhino poachers on the western shores of Lake St Lucia early yesterday, after a single shot was heard on Sunday night.
According to SA National Parks spokesman Wanda Mkutshulwa, on December 2 the number of rhinos killed in 2010 stood at 304, the most recent figure available. More....