THE CARCASSES of two white rhinos were discovered at a private game reserve near Colesberg this week. Their horns had been removed by poachers.
This follows the slaughter of eight white rhinos near Kimberley last week, where the remains of the animals were left on the farm and three were dehorned.
According to conservationists, it appears as if the same modus operandi was used in both incidents.
A rhino horn has an estimated black market value of about R2.3 million.
Police spokesperson, Captain Sergio Kock, said yesterday that the police were investigating a case of rhino poaching after two white rhinos were shot and killed on July 2.
He indicated that the carcasses were found on a game farm on Wednesday, whereupon a case was opened at the police station.
“The police inspected the scene and retrieved the carcasses. The horns of the rhinos were removed. No suspects were arrested. The police are requesting that anyone with information please call Detective Warrant Officer Renier Snyman on 083 393 3659. The investigation continues,” said Kock.
He said that witnesses had heard gunshots on the farm prior to the incident.
Kock added that no arrests had been made yet in connection with the eight rhinos that were slaughtered and dehorned on a farm near Kimberley last week.
“The police are requesting that anyone with information please call Detective Warrant Officer Martin Coetzee on 082 494 3540. The investigation continues.”
Media enquiries that were referred to the national Department of Environmental Affairs, went unanswered although receipt of the enquiry was confirmed.
The owners of the private game reserve declined to comment. “Why must we disclose anything,” they said.
According to rhino poaching statistics, which were released by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, in February, 1 054 rhino were poached in 2016, of which 662 rhino carcasses were found at the Kruger National Park.
She had indicated that there had been 2 883 incidents of poaching-related activities including poaching camps, contacts, crossings, sightings, tracks and shots fired at the Kruger National Park.
Molewa had stated that criminal gangs, which were linked to a well-resourced and funded transnational syndicate, were involved in the sale of rhino horn, where 680 poachers and traffickers were arrested during 2016.
More than 106 rhinos were relocated from the Kruger National Park to various “private rhino strongholds” for safety and security reasons last year after suitability assessments were conducted by SANParks.