Rhino calf rescued from tree after poaching attack

15th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A three-week-old South African rhino was rescued from a thorn tree after fleeing poachers who shot its mother dead and hit the calf over the head with a machete, a report said Thursday.

"I heard the little one cry, I saw it was trapped and was hurting, but I could not do anything until the vet arrived," game farm owner Neels van Rensburg told Die Beeld newspaper.

The bleating baby white rhino was discovered with its head trapped in a v-shaped fork of a small tree near the carcass of its mother on a game farm near Pretoria. The cow had been shot in the heart and head.

Driven by the lucrative Asian demand for rhino horn, South Africa is facing a poaching crisis with the national parks authority on Monday saying that 287 animals had been killed so far this year. In 2007, 13 were lost.

It took half an hour to free the calf whose head swelled up after it rubbed its neck raw against the tree trunks, and pawed ruts into the ground, in a desperate bid to free itself, the report said.

The rhino was trapped for at least eight hours.

"Few people get so angry at the poachers like we do who work on the scene. It does not help that the poachers get caught, because they walk free," said Thabazimbi veterinarian Louis Greef who helped free the animal.

"They must be shot and killed. People out there do not know what is happening. It is chaos and it will not end."

The vet told Die Beeld that he had received a call about a shot rhino every four days since May.

© 2011 AFP

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