Circling vultures led some Vlakteplaas rangers to two dead rhino, killed in the vicinity of Langtoon Dam in the Far Northern Region of the Kruger National Park (KNP). The rangers found the carcasses of the 14-month pregnant cow and a sub-adult calf on May 24, seemingly two days after they were killed. SANParks’ Corporate Investigation Services (CIS) was alerted.
Don English and his team flew to the scene soon after, where they reconstructed the events from the evidence found on the scene. It is believed the poachers shot the cow, who ran about 200m before she died. They tried to remove the horn, but darkness prevented them from finishing. They slept nearby, planning to finish at first light. Unfortunately, the calf had returned to its mother the following day and was shot on sight.
The poachers then removed both horns and fled to Mozambique from there they apparently came. According to Don, the modus operandi of these poachers is similar to that used in the killing of an elephant a few years ago. It appears the operation was well planned by people who know the area well. “This was definitely not the work of bushmeat poachers,” says Don. “They knew what they wanted and killed the rhino for its horn.” No arrests have been made yet. The investigation continues.