Rhinos in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve were first dehorned in March 2010 within days of poachers killing two animals. Picture: Etienne Creux
Rhinos in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve were first dehorned in March 2010 within days of poachers killing two animals. Picture: Etienne Creux

Rietvlei’s white rhino dehorned

Time of article published Aug 14, 2013

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Johannesburg - Johannesburg’s white rhinos have been dehorned for a second time to protect them from poachers.

Rhinos in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve were first dehorned in March 2010 within days of poachers killing two animals.

However, horns need to be cut at three-year intervals, so the council recently put together a professional team to haul out their chainsaws.

When rhinos are dehorned in the correct way the horns will regrow in a similar way to fingernails.

Rhino horn grows an estimated 4 to 7cm a year.

“A qualified game capturer conducted the dehorning operation and an applicable dehorning permit was in place for this process,” said council spokesperson Selby Bokaba.

“An official from Gauteng Nature Conservation also observed the whole operation.

“The animals and horns were microchipped and DNA samples were taken for the data bank at Onderstepoort.”

Rhino poaching is a national threat with 1 722 poached between 2010 and April 30 this year.

The number of poaching incidents for Gauteng was 25 for the same period.

“The threat necessitates emergency interventions to minimise the risk of poaching incidents,” said Bokaba. “As a result, all the rhinoceros in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve were dehorned to protect them against possible poachers.”

For the animals’ safety, he would not reveal how many rhinos the reserve has.

Rhino dehorning is one of the tools used to reduce the threat of poaching in most parts of southern Africa.

A study, funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs, on the dehorning of rhinos as a tool to reduce the risk of poaching, was conducted in 2011. A report prepared for the department by the Endangered Wildlife Trust indicated that dehorning is currently the most effective method against rhino poaching.

While effective, dehorning still requires security measures to back it up. – The Star

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