Fri, 23 Jun 2017
As South Africa continues to battle an intense rhino poaching war, conservation and wildlife haven, Natal Lion Park says it is “devastated” with the recent poaching of its beloved white rhino, Maxine.
The Natal Lion Park reported the news in a Facebook post on Wednesday, 21 June saying that the 11-year-old white rhino at the wildlife park – not far from the major cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg – was shot in the head while she was sleeping by poachers, who then stole the animal’s horn.
Although the news came as a shock, the park says it is grateful for the support it has received and to the South African Police Services for responding to the call so quickly. The park hopes that arrests will be made soon so that the poachers can be brought to justice.
“We are devastated to announce that our beloved Maxine, the white rhino that everyone has come to know and love over the years at the Natal Lion Park, was killed in the early hours of yesterday morning by poachers.
“Maxine was an orphan rhino that was hand raised at the Lion Park. She was 11 years old.
The park writes, “according to the veterinary surgeon, who examined her yesterday morning, she was killed instantly by a bullet to the head while she was asleep, so the one blessing is that she didn’t suffer when they removed her horn.
“We are so sad and in shock, and will do everything possible to find the culprits responsible for this heinous crime.
“We are grateful to the Stock Theft Unit, Ezemvelo KZN (KwaZulu-Natal) Wildlife and the SAPS (South African Police Services) for responding to the call so quickly. We hope that arrests will be made soon so that the poachers can be brought to justice. RIP Maxine.”
Rhino crisis highlighted
While poachers target the horn believed to have high-value medicinal properties, such tragic and reckless poaching incidents highlight how intense and fearless the criminal industry has become.
In just a short space of time, poachers have attacked Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in Kwa Zulu Natal, which has subsequently decided to close down after a heavily armed gang hit the orphanage on the night of 21 February.
Most recently SA’s special investigative police unit has arrested poaching suspects at OR Tambo International Airport trying to smuggle rhino horns out of the country – with the latest being the two alleged smugglers arrested on Monday, 12 June and 10 rhino horn, valued at R2.8 million, recovered.
While government says it is doing all it can to reduce the number on poaching and increase arrests, conservationists have also alleged that there is massive corruption within the court system, resulting in the release of several suspects or the engineering of ongoing delays in trials that go nowhere – and poachers clearly becoming more brazen in their attack.