South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province is experiencing its worst ever year so far for rhino poaching, with 14 rhino having been killed in the province during the past five months, which equals the number of killings during the whole of last year.

Increased efforts in the northern part of South Africa to curb rhino-poaching is believed to have caused the criminals to move elsewhere, including into the eastern Cape.

The privately-owned Kragga Kamma Game Park in Port Elizabeth has decided to dehorn all its rhino. Having the rhino at the game park dehorned was the last and only option to protect them as they have become potential targets for poachers.

Wildlife veterinarian Dr William Fowlds, an expert who has done dozens of de-hornings this week attended to seven-year-old rhino cow Bembi for it to be dehorned.

About 10 centimetres of the horn was sawn off, and neatly sanded down, before the cow slowly woke up and found its way.

A rhino bull, Chuck, was dehorned for the third time.

Game Park owner Ayesha Cantor said: “We are quite vulnerable, being private rhino owners. We don’t have major resources to look after the rhinos. We have been fortunate to have the Eastern Cape stock theft unit, local South African Police Service (SAPS), flying squad and dog squad units helping us with perimeter patrols, and if there is cause for concern they are here within minutes.

“But even so, you get the feeling that if the poachers really wanted to get to us, they would. So, to give our rhinos the best chance of surviving this onslaught, we have made the decision to have our last rhino de-horned in an effort to keep her safe.”

Dr Fowlds said the Eastern Cape was now under threat. “What is vital for us is to try and lock things down before the whole culture of poaching becomes established in this province.

“It is very difficult to reverse a culture once people become trapped in crime. 2016 is a vital year for us as a country, particularly with the Cites decisions looming, and also a year where I believe there is going to be a substantial shift in crime further south.”

The founder and director of Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching (OSCAP), Allison Thomson, said she believed that the legal sale of rhino horn would not be effective.

“What happens when you have a legal market is you never get rid of the black market so you have a legal horn and an illegal horn going into the market which makes it impossible to do enforcement. The legal trade in any wild species has never actually protected wild animals.”

Most of the poached horns are destined for the Asian countries. The removed horns at this park will now be kept at an undisclosed location.

Source: Nam News Network