Last week Mozparks Foundation’s veterinary unit in collaboration with Saving the Survivors and ANAC (Administração Nacional das Areas de Conservação) immobilized and successfully treated a white rhinoceros female (Ceratotherium simum), in Mozambique, who was the victim of a terrible poaching incident but somehow managed to survive.
The suffering animal was shot twice in the back and had both horns hacked off, causing very severe wounds that could have resulted in life-threatening infection if left untreated.
Our first sighting of “Lucky” was in mid-October when the antipoaching team spotted her roaming freely between several reserves in the GLC (Greater Libombos Conservancy) along with a beautiful white rhinoceros male. However, initial reports indicated that she had no horns and was bleeding. After enormous efforts by the GLC rangers we were finally able to take good quality photos and assess her condition. It was all too clear what had happened and a rescue operation was swiftly put in motion.
All wounds were cleaned, treated and disinfected, subsequently a cast was applied and secured with screws fixed into the nasal cavity bones, protecting the large and more severe wound caused by hacking off the frontal horn.
After a 50-minute procedure the reversal agent was administered and “Lucky” calmly walked away. The healing process will be long but we are confident that she will recover fully.
Rhino poaching has significantly increased over the past few years and is being driven by the relentless demand for rhino horn in Asian countries, particularly Vietnam. It is utilised in Traditional Chinese Medicine and it is becoming more and more commonly used as a status symbol to display someone’s success and wealth. As Southern Africa is home to the majority of rhino population in the world it is being heavily targeted by poaching syndicates. However, poaching is now a threat in all rhino range states and game reserves are having to invest heavily in anti-poaching activities.
The current scarcity of rhinos coupled with the corresponding limited supply of rhino horn only drives the price higher and intensifies the pressure on the rapidly declining rhino population. Poverty in Southern Africa has a major role to play in this predicament if one considers the fact that these people’s annual income is often far below the subsistence level, the opportunity to change one’s life by killing an animal that they don’t value is overwhelming.
Poachers are now being supplied with sophisticated equipment to track and kill rhinos provided by international criminal syndicates. Often, they use a tranquiliser gun to bring the rhino down and hack off its horns leaving the rhino to wake up and bleed to death very painfully and slowly. Poachers are also often armed with guns making them very dangerous for the anti-poaching teams who put their lives on the line to protect the rhinos.
Mozparks Foundation (www.mozparks.com) is working on the Mozambican frontline against rhino and other species poaching supporting both security, rescue and rehabilitation operations.