Rhinos poached on Ghaub

Jun 8, 2021

In mid-May, poachers trespassed the Ghaub nature reserve and killed a rhino cow. The horns were hacked off and stolen …

In the early afternoon

of May 16, a group of rhinos was grazing in an open area of the savannah – two cows with their two 13-month-old calves and a young bull.

In the evening the poachers approached the animals. One of the cows was shot well-aimed. Alarmed by the shot, the other rhinos ran away in a panic. The poachers then shot after the fleeing animals at random.

Hereby, the second cow was also wounded and found dead two days later about five kilometers away from the scene. This poor animal died over a long period of time and must have suffered tremendous pain. In the hours before she died, she kept rubbing her horns and body against trees, trying to get rid of the pain.

The bull was also hit, but was lucky: the bullet was stopped by one of his ribs. He has since recovered well. The wound festers, but an anaesthetic would be too dangerous at the moment and would throw the other rhinos completely off balance. The bull remains under veterinary observation for the time being.

The calf of the second cow got away without being wounded. It was found the day after the incident and has calmed down. It is now grazing with the bull that was shot. Although rhino calves suckle up to 18 months and then still stay by their mother’s side for around two years, there is hope that the calf will continue to develop well.

There was no trace of the calf of the first cow for more than two weeks, despite an intensive search that also included a helicopter and a drone. The carcass was only discovered in the thick bush on Friday evening. A gunshot wound to the left hind leg must have caused a slow death.

According to the tracks, the poachers were dropped by a car some distance from the guarded gate. From there they had walked several kilometres through the bush-covered mountains before they met the rhinos. After robbing the horns, they walked on the same route back to the waiting car.

A dog squad combed the route the day after the incident, hoping to find any clues, but to no avail. It is assumed that the poachers have a certain local knowledge, as they moved through the area in a relatively targeted manner.

ONE Namibia is offering a reward of 50,000 Namibia Dollar for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the poachers. The police investigation is in full swing. We will publish information on important new developments, as far as approved by the police, on our Facebook page.

This incident shows not only the ruthlessness with which the poachers acted, but also the need to continue investing in protecting these animals. So far, the measures included the erection of guarded gates on the roads. Specially trained security guards patrol the nature reserve, track down the rhinos every day and report the location and condition of the animals.

The rhinos were deliberately not dehorned. In several cases, poachers also killed the animals for the stump. The anaesthesia puts the rhinos under enormous stress and carries the risk of overdose. Since the horn grows back quickly, it would have to be trimmed once a year. In addition, the animals need their horns for social behaviour and mating fights.

Instead, it has long been planned to electrify parts of the outer fence. Consideration is also given to further watchtowers that are manned around the clock. From their elevated position, the guards can see more during the day and better hear and locate possible shots at night.

Unfortunately, due to the Corona crisis, there is a lack of income from tourism to finance nature conservation measures. Therefore, Ghaub is grateful for the support of its partner ONE Namibia. This is a company that wants to preserve wildlife and natural habitats and, by issuing shares, enables shareholders to actively and directly contribute to wildlife protection.
Do you wish to actively help protect rhinos from poachers? Find out more.

Rhino cow and calf on Ghaub

The last photo of rhino cow Zanna and her calf on Ghaub. Photo: Caroline Rust

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