A South African national park has taken the “drastic measure” of de-horning their rhinos to save them from poachers as these images show.
The Wildlife Trust of the Pilanesberg National Park, located north of the city of Rustenburg in the South African province of North West, said the decision taken by North West Parks was not an easy one.
In a statement, the park said: “It was not something we wanted to do, but rather needed to do. It broke us as much as it will you when you get to visit, but it is something we need to get used to.”
According to local media, the reserve is home to white and black rhinos which have been used to set up new populations in other South African parks as well as in Botswana.
However, the park has reportedly lost 120 rhinos to poachers over the last seven years, serious impacting the population which has been steadily in decline.
The Pilanesberg National Park said that the de-horning operation was carried out during the COVID-19 lockdown with the help of visiting veterinary experts who trimmed “the horns of all black and white rhinos, males and females and calves”.
Vets were also able to treat old gunshot wounds and other injuries.
The park said that studies have shown rhinos to be unaffected by the removal of their horns, but added they will be monitoring the animals closely to check for signs of behavioural changes.
According to reports, the size of the park and its location close to provincial roads make it attractive to poachers, and extra security has also been set up to prevent further raids.
The cost of the de-horning operation was reportedly 2 million ZAR (92,365 GBP).
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