Eight rhinos poached over just one day last week

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Amid an ongoing massacre that we don’t even know the true numbers for, the countdown is on for the online auction of rhino horn.

Up to 40 rhinos are believed to have been killed for their horns between June 30 and this past Saturday in southern Africa.

One allegedly dehorned rhino was killed in the Tshwane-owned Rietvlei Nature Reserve during the week, while another was wounded, but managed to escape, bringing the number of dead rhinos there to three – animals that are supposed to be dehorned.

The number rises to 33 if one considers that two of the 31 rhinos were pregnant with viable foetuses, and the number is 40 if one includes seven rhino from Namibia that were apparently killed in the same time frame.

In the continued absence of figures from the department of environmental affairs (DEA) due to Minister Edna Molewa’s information “blackout”, the aforementioned numbers come from DEA-registered stakeholder group Save our Rhino senior administrator Loraine Liebenberg.

“I cannot give the source of my numbers in order to protect people, but I know eight rhino were poached over a 24-hour period from Friday to Saturday,” said Liebenberg.

It is understood one was from Rietvlei, four from Limpopo, and one from the North West province.

“We also don’t know all the cases, because of Molewa’s blackout. As to the cause of the spike, there is a pattern of increased poaching, which began with the minister’s notice of intent for the domestic trade in rhino horn, and since the publishing of the auction, poaching has gone sky high.

“It looks like a gearing up of the syndicates, forming new pathways, because why would syndicates be interested in auctions when they can get it for free?” Liebenberg argued.

According to Media24’s Elise Tempelhoff, 142 rhinos have been poached since the beginning of the year to date in KwaZulu-Natal as poachers widen their search.

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