The Rhino Roundup

Image credit: Erin Conway-Smith for The Globe and Mail

Tragic death of demo rhino

While demonstrating anti-poaching procedures to press, the rhino being operated on by vets died on Thursday, 9 February. The vets suspect that age and a possible heart condition may have been the underlying cause of death, as Spencer the rhino went into convulsions while under sedation at Lion & Rhino Nature Reserve, in the Cradle of Humankind. The demonstration entailed drilling a small hole into Spencer’s horn and inserting dye and pesticide to deter poachers. A DNA sample was also being taken and a microchip inserted. The vet and developer of this technique, Charles van Niekerk, who has never had a rhino die during these procedures before, called the incident a disaster and a tragedy.

South Africa and Mozambique discuss poaching

In Pretoria, ministers from South Africa and Pretoria held talks about rhino poaching and the possibility of reinforcing the 150 km border between Mozambique and SA, which fell into disrepair after apartheid and in the hopeful wake of the Transfrontier Park. Mozambiquan authorities are currently considering legislation that will elevate wildlife poaching to a criminal offence in the country and are currently training a squad of rangers for an elite anti-poaching unit.

Baby rhino on the way

In Indonesia, the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary is expecting a new addition to their fold – their rhino Ratu is in her 11th month of pregnancy and is expected to deliver her calf in the summer. The preganancy is being closely monitored as Ratu last two pregnancies failed and she still has another five months of gestation left. Nevertheless, news of the baby is a potent symbol of hope for the dwindling species. Fewer than 200 Sumatran rhinos currently survive in the wild.

No poaching for striking Kruger

Park spokesperson William Mabasa has said that no incidents of rhino poaching have been reported in the Kruger National Park since the park’s staff – including a number of rangers involved with current anti-poaching strategies – began striking on February 3. The Park is currently being assisted by the SA Police Service and the SA National Defence Force, as well as calling on retired rangers in its ongoing struggle to protect rhinos from now-threatening levels of poaching.

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