Bloemfontein - Three rhino died after becoming stuck in mud at a Free State nature reserve in August, a provincial environmental spokesman said on Monday.

“Three rhino perished in an unfortunate incident after being stuck in mud for three days at Sandveld Nature Reserve,” said Kgotso Tau.

The rhino were thought to have got stuck in a mud patch because of the low level of water at their natural drinking place at the Bloemhof Dam, bordering the reserve.

Tau said the animals were found by rhino guards on August 20.

“They apparently sustained serious muscle injuries in their efforts to escape from the mud,” he said.

A game capturing team and a veterinarian team were called and the animals were removed from the mud.

The first animal died the next day, the second the day after that, and the third last Sunday, August 25, Tau said.

One rhino pulled from the mud was saved.

Tau said the animals which died were in the care of the reserve's management and the veterinary team until their deaths.

Their horns would be kept in a safe place, in accordance with the law. - Sapa