Rhino Poached at Hoedspruit Air Force Base

There is absolutely no doubt about it – rhino poaching is a major issue in South Africa, and unless we all stand together against the criminal syndicates, there will be few rhinos left. Tanda Tula is appalled at the current escalating levels of rhino poaching across the country, and in particular, in the Kruger National Park area.

Awareness is key and we support all efforts that are being made to stop this massacre of our natural heritage.

The below article discusses a rhino which was sadly poached at the Air Force Base Hoedspruit Buffer Zone. This article is courtesy of The Kruger 2 Canyon newspaper (www.kruger2canyon.co.za).

Rhino poached at AFB Hoedspruit

Desiré Wright

HOEDSPRUIT – On Saturday afternoon, August 27 a magnificent white rhino bull was poached in one of the last places one would ever expect.

After discovering a cut fence on the South Eastern border of the Air Force Base Hoedspruit Buffer Zone on Sunday morning, members of the Air Force and a neighbouring reserve began to search the area. Due to various factors and poor weather conditions on Sunday, the search had to be continued on Monday.

On Monday morning the search began anew with a full sweep of the 2400ha reserve that acts as a buffer zone around AFB Hoedspruit. Four sets of tracks were found. Approximately 4km north of the tar road to Timbavati, vultures were spotted in the reserve and subsequently the carcass of an adult white rhino, that was killed and dehorned, was found.

The tracks around the carcass told of a cruel death. The rhino was shot from a short distance through the right hand side of the head with a high calibre rifle. This shot did however not kill the rhino as it missed the brain. It is suspected that the rhino sat down at this stage but that its upper body was still supported by the front legs. Presumably in an attempt to get the rhino to go down completely, the poachers hacked at the animal’s spine with an axe to paralyse it. There are signs that even after the shot and axe injuries, the animal still moved a few metres forward and that the horns were hacked out of its head while it was still alive.

The Air Force continually patrols the reserve using various methods. Alternative strategies are being considered in order to deter poachers and to stop the cruel killing of these magnificent animals.

The quick reactions of various staff of AFB Hoedspruit, SAPD, LEDET, Protrack, Quemic and neighbouring game reserves are commended in their commitment and professional conduct.

We have not included images as we feel they are too graphic.

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