Changing Planet

Two rhinos slaughtered in armed daylight robbery in South Africa

The war on South Africa’s rhinos continued yesterday when an armed gang held up farm workers before proceeding to shoot two rhinos for their horns.

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The brazen daylight attack was unusual, in that most reports of the 300 rhinos believed to have been poached in South Africa since the beginning of last year suggest the attacks were more like burglary, done stealthily, at night.

Holding up rhino keepers at gunpoint is probably akin to robbing a bank–each horn is reported to be worth as much as U.S.$1,000,000 on the Asian markets, where the appendage of compressed keratin fibers (the same material that is found in fingernails and hair) is believed to have magical powers to cure diseases, cast out demons, and resurrect sexual vitality.

Rhino horn: All myth, no medicine

Ten men killed two rhinos on a farm in South Africa’s Limpopo province before cutting off their horns yesterday afternoon, the South African government’s public broadcaster (SABC News) reported.

“They held up two workers on the farm, between Modimolle and Vaalwater,” according to a South African Press Association report (Sapa) published by Independent Online, the website of the country’s largest newspaper group.

“Between eight to 10 suspects, armed, arrived on the farm this afternoon,” police spokesperson Ronel Otto told the broadcaster.

“They then overpowered two workers on the farm, a man and a woman in their 40s. They then tied them up and threatened them with firearms and… went to a special enclosure where the rhinos are kept. And they shot and they killed two rhinos and they cut off their horns and fled.”

No arrests had been made, Sapa said.

Last November SABC News reported that rhino poachers had “hit a big five game ranch in the Soutpansberg in Limpopo for the seventh time” in 2009.

“A cow was shot for her horn but she did not die instantly and the heavily wounded animal escaped from her attackers before dying a painful death.”

“Two rhino calves were left orphaned after the attacks. A cow was shot for her horn but she did not die instantly and the heavily wounded animal escaped from her attackers before dying a painful death. Two poachers fled without her horn and one was arrested later and police are still looking for the second one.

“Another cow was also shot dead ten days ago before poachers hacked off the horn before they got away. The rhino also had a calf, but the little one ran away and has not been found again,” SABC News said of the November 2009 attacks in Limpopo province.

Limpopo is close to South Africa’s capital city, Pretoria. The province has many private nature reserves for game breeding, tourist viewing, and licensed hunting.

Related reports from the rhino war zone:

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International park becomes frontier in Southern Africa’s rhino war

South Africa vows to fight rhino poachers to “last man standing”

Elle Macpherson a voice for rhino conservation?

“Conservationists” behind rhino poaching spree, newspaper reports

South Africa battles to save rhinos from high-tech poachers

South Africa, Zimbabwe epicenter of rhino poaching

 

NGS stock photo of South African poster by Steve Raymer

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Comments on this post from Nat Geo News Watch Facebook page:

Josephine Irawati:  so sad… ūüôĀ

Hildegardt Theron: very sad…:(

Donna Alvarado: No more killing. :O(

Celest√© Fritze: No, we cannot keep on saying this is sad, this is so sad … we MUST DO SOMETHING. Please try to contact Gary Player, ask him to add his voice … his brother dr Ian Player (83) did so much for the conservations of rhinos. This MUST BE STOPPED! Pressure MUST be put on the SA government to declare war against these people. This is war, not time to say sad sad sad. As a South African I’m shocked that this goes on under my nose … please ask the international press to put pressure on SA to DO SOMETHING!

(Everestgirl Gri and Donna Alvarado like this.)

Everestgirl Gri: LOS RINOCERONTES SON DEMASIADOS BELLOS Y MIS BOMBEROS FAVORITOS, ASI QUE NO METERSE CON ELLOS PLEASEEEEEE!!!!

Read hundreds more comments at Two more rhinos gunned down by poachers in South Africa this week 

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn

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