A hundred rhinos were killed by poachers in the first two months of 2012, a spokesman for the newly launched “rhino orphanage” in Limpopo said on Tuesday.

This compares with 400 rhinos killed in the whole of 2011.

“South Africa is home to more than 90 per cent of the rhinos on the planet and the world's first rhino orphanage will be a major step forward in the battle to protect the species,” said Arrie van Deventer of the Wildlife & Cultural Centre at Legend Golf & Safari Resort.

The centre would take in baby rhinos who were orphaned or injured by poaching.

“The centre will not be open to the public in order for the rhinos to be protected and have the very best chance of survival,” he said.

They would ultimately be released back into the wild.

Van Deventer said the orphanage would have specialist medical facilities to care for these often extremely young and badly injured creatures.

This would include an intensive care unit and a special ambulance to transport them under proper medical supervision from the place of the killing. - Sapa