South African conservationists have dehorned hundreds of endangered rhinos to protect them from poachers.
As international borders reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the South African government has warned game reserves around the country to prepare for a possible resurgence in rhino poaching.
As a result, conservationists in the province of North West have dehorned hundreds of rhinos in game reserves.
Tracking rhinos requires two helicopters and several teams of people on the ground. They then tranquilise them before removing their horns while sedated.
Poachers kill the rhinos to sell their horns on, typically as a form of traditional medicine.
With horns trading on black markets for incredibly high prices, dehorning the animals may be their only chance of survival.
Nico Jacobs, the founder of Rhino 911, a conservation group that hunts down rhinos to cut off their horns to save them from poachers, helps to carry this out in North West.
He said: “As soon as the lockdown hit SA, we started having incursions almost every day.
Dr Lynne MacTavish of the Mankwe Wildlife Reserve has made it her life’s mission to save the rhino.
She admitted that she never wanted to dehorn rhinos before a dark day happened in 2014.
One of her female rhinos had been “poached in the most brutal way” and she decided that dehorning may be the best way of saving their dwindling numbers.
For security reasons, the authorities could not provide the exact number of animals already dehorned, however rhinos could well be extinct in the wild in the next decade if they continue to decline at the current rate.
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