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Armed Men Attack Animal Orphanage, Kill Baby Rhinos Before Brutally Removing Their Horns

Mar 02, 2017 10:49 AM EST
Rhino Translocation Project
Illegal trade in animal parts remains a lucrative business on the international black market. Among the most coveted animal parts used by Chinese as traditional medicine ingredients are rhino horns, elephant tusks, donkey hide and tiger parts.
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A shocking hostage and killing incident at the Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in South Africa has prompted worldwide outrage.

Several nights ago, two armed men broke into the facilities of the rehabilitation center, which is home to rhinos and other animals who had lost their parents to poachers. According to reports, the men held the staff hostage and shot two 18-month-old white rhinos, Impy and Gugu, before viciously removing their horns.

In an interview with The Dodo, Yvette Taylor, a manager at Thula Thula and executive director of Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization, said the horns of the two rhinos are quite larger when compared to the others in the sanctuary.

Both of the baby rhinos died. Gugu was killed straight away with a bullet while Impi had to be laid to rest the next morning because of the severe injuries inflicted on him.

Read Also: Huge Chunk of Forest Elephants Die From Poaching in Their Supposed Haven 

The Huffington Post reported that both rhinos were a week away from getting their horns removed. Conservationist notes that dehorning rhinos is one way of keeping them safe from poachers. A few weeks more and they would have been sent back to the wild.

In a Facebook broadcast, Karen Trendler, the director of Thula Thula, recalled how Impi had already suffered enough before going to the sanctuary. Unfortunately, the poachers had found him for the second time.


"Impi survived a particularly brutal poaching," Trendler said. "He stayed at his mother's carcass for six days, moving away just a short distance to eat ... because he was obviously very hungry and very thirsty. And when he came in, I still remember so clearly, sitting with this tiny little rhino who was covered in blood splatter from where they shot the mom."

Recently released government data said the rhino poaching toll in South Africa fell by 10 percent in 2016. However, conservationists are asserting that this does not mean rhinos are finally safe. Ecowatch notes that the battle against poachers is not over yet as three rhinos a day are still killed because of the on-going poaching crisis.

Read Also: Researchers Build Robo-Rhinos to Monitor, Guard Packs, Stop Poaching

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