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Would-be poacher dehorns fibreglass rhino in South Africa

A would-be wildlife poacher sawed off the horn of a fibreglass rhino on a South African game farm, hoping to cash in on the illegal trade in horns.

The robber first tried to break into the Lombardini Game Farm’s cash register and a cupboard. When that didn’t work, he plundered the bar, pulled the synthetic rhino head from its mount on a wall and chopped off its horn outside.

“When we came to the guest house the next morning the rhino lay on its side dehorned,” said Susan Lottering, the bemused owner of the farm near Jeffreys Bay in the south of the country.

“We think it was an opportunist who saw the horn and tried to sell it.”

Nicknamed Barendina, the fibreglass model commemorated the first rhino brought to the reserve. Today the farm has a budding breeding programme for rhino and sable antelope.

The owners plan to have Barendina re-horned, but have already been asked to donate her to a school for disabled children in the capital Pretoria.

Rhino horns are sought by international syndicates that sell them to the Asian traditional medicine market, where the substance is falsely believed to have healing properties.

The trade has sparked mass killings of the animals in South Africa.

At the end of March, the official rhino toll for the year was 150. Last year, a record 448 were poached.