Two Weenen Game Reserve rhinos survive after pouching incident

TWO rhinos were late yesterday, Wednesday, 03 October 2013 found in Weenen Game Reserve running around; bleeding with their horns neatly removed by probable the use of a sharp object like a saw.

Suspicions have since been aroused that a different type of rhino poaching syndicate has been operating in the Weenen Game Reserve in KZN’s Midlands following the discovery of these two rhinos.

Ezemvelo team of vets is today at Weenen Game Reserve where they will assess the wounds and decide on the next action. A lot will depend on the extent of the damage done on these rhinos.

Ezemvelo vet, Dr. Dave Cooper indicated that a number of rhinos have in the past survived such incidents. “It is critical that the wounds are cleaned properly and any foreign fragments or objects are removed from the wounds to prevent secondary infection. The rhinos are given anti- biotic medication before being released.”

Should the vets’ team decide that the wounds are very deep; the two rhinos will be translocated to Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park’s Bomas where their progress will be observed daily. If the wounds are not deep, the rhinos will be released back in the bush and their progress monitored whilst they are in the bush.

Meanwhile, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Rhino Intervention Co-coordinator Cedric Coetzee reported that Weenen Game Reserve lost five rhinos through poaching since Friday last week. All five poached white rhino had been found with their front horns missing. The preliminary suspicion is that they all died from a fatal overdose of what is believed to be the M99 drug. Forensics will determine the drug used and that it actually killed the animals.

“This is a very different poaching scene to anything else we’ve experienced. While these losses have hit us hard, at this stage there appears no brutality in evidence. There were no axes or gunshot wounds. We just found evidence that the horns were removed by a saw.”

Coetzee said while forensic investigations had only just begun, it appeared as if the poachers wanted to keep these rhino alive before removing their horns: “At this stage we think that they died from an over-dose of this M99 drug”.

Another white rhino was found dead on Monday but at this early stage it is thought to have died of natural causes as both its horns were intact. This brings to six the number of rhinos that died in Weenen Game Reserve since last week. (Five poached and one natural causes)

The next three days would establish greater insight into the incidents as tissue and fluid samples would be taken. An independent investigator from the IUCN was also being sent to the scene along with Ezemvelo’s vet.

Asked if Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s remaining rhino populations would have their horns treated with poison and indelible dye as part of the trial programme that begun at Tembe and Ndumo last month, Coetzee said the Tembe/Ndumo pilot project will determine if this project should be extended to other Game Reserves.

  • KwaZulu Natal has to date lost 70 rhinos in 2013

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]

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