Durban - The dehorned and dying rhino spotted in the Kruger National Park five days ago was found alive on Tuesday, but with a bullet lodged in its brain.

The animal has been put down by South African National Parks (SANParks) because of its condition.

After the search resumed on day, the young rhino was seen by rangers from a helicopter in the section of the park where it was first seen.

SANParks spokesman Reynold Thakhuli said the animal was assessed. “It was discovered that a bullet had lodged in the rhino’s brain and any chance of survival was slim.”

The ranger in charge took the decision to end its suffering.

“There was simply no chance for this poor animal.

People must be able to understand that our main task is conservation, but if you look at the pain that it endured we had to end its suffering. Its brain had been affected by the bullet, as well as one eye.”

Thakhuli said although the rhino was spotted on Friday, its horn could have been hacked off days earlier. Its resilience, owing to it being young, had kept it alive.

The bullet has been sent for ballistic testing to determine what type of rifle was used.

Thakhuli extended SANParks’ gratitude to the visitors who alerted them to “this heartbreaking incident” as well as to the rangers for a “sterling job” and their dedication to finding the rhino despite difficult terrain and weather conditions.

“They never gave up,” he said, adding: “We will continue to work hard in the fight against this scourge… To us one rhino killed is one too many,” he said.

The Mercury