UK researchers are developing treatment options for rhinos injured while poaching.
Rhinos are highly valued for their horns due to high demand in Asian markets. Rhino horns are powdered to make medicines that are used to treat fever, convulsions and strokes.
Rhino poaching is a lucrative trade in South Africa where organized groups of poachers kill many rhinos every year. In 2012, about 668 rhino were killed in South Africa. 2013 saw an increase of 49 percent with 203 rhino deaths in just the first three months.
Many poachers cut the rhinos' horns while they are still alive. As a consequence of the gruesome injuries, these animals die a slow and painful death.
Professor Fred Reyers, from the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln (UK) and his team is now guiding vets in South Africa by analyzing blood samples of the animals and suggesting the most effective treatment for injury.
"Poachers use two approaches: shooting the rhino, with the intention of killing which requires marksmanship and a heavy calibre rifle. Many rhino are just stunned and/or wounded sufficiently to make it possible to saw or hack the horn off. They often have serious shrapnel injuries which tend to become infected and, if left lying on one side for several hours, are disposed to muscles on the lower side dying off because the sheer mass of the animal prevents blood flow. The second approach is the use of an immobilising dart gun - however the poacher does not give an antidote," Reyers said. More....