South Africa rhino dies in anti-poaching procedure

Feb 9, 2012, 6:51 PM

Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG (AP) – An attempt to protect a rhinoceros from poachers in South Africa by sedating it to treat its horn ended with the animal’s death Thursday in front of journalists and others who had been invited to learn more about anti-poaching efforts, conservationists said.

“It’s sad for us; it’s the loss of another animal. It’s a death that I still chalk up to poaching,” said Lorinda Hern, spokeswoman for the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve, saying extreme measures are necessary because of a poaching crisis in South Africa.

The private reserve near the capital, Pretoria, calls in veterinarians to sedate rhinos so their horns can be treated with a dye and an insecticide, and tracking and identification devices can be inserted. A male in his mid to late 20s, fairly old for such an animal, could not be revived after being sedated Thursday, Hern said.

Last year, a record 448 rhinos were poached in South Africa. Demand for rhino horn among a growing Asian middle class is believed to be driving the poaching spike in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa. Some Asians believe a rhino horn has medicinal properties, though science does not support that.

Joseph Okori, a wildlife veterinarian and a World Wildlife Fund rhino expert, was an independent observer of Thursday’s procedure as part of WWF’s research into anti-poaching techniques. Okori said WWF did not support infusing horns with insecticides, which can be dangerous to humans who might eat powdered rhino horn. But he said the dye, which did not affect the outward appearance of the horn, could help law enforcement officials trace horn shipments. Airport security devices can detect the dye, Okori said.

Okori said he had sedated about 50 rhinos for various reasons, including to relocate animals, in the last 15 years. He said one animal under his care had died.

“There is always a potential risk” that a sedated animal will die, Okori said. But “the whole issue is, we are facing a serious rhino poaching crisis. This is a war. The desperation is quite high for rhino owners, to do whatever it takes to protect their rhinos.”

Hern said the reserve began treating horns to make them unattractive to poachers after losing a pregnant rhino and her calf to poachers in 2010. She said Thursday’s death was the first among up to 20 rhinos that have undergone the procedure, and that the death would not stop the reserve from performing the procedure.

The dye permeates the horn’s interior with a neon pink dye similar to that banks use to mark bills during robberies. The insecticide, which protects rhinos against ticks, can cause vomiting and other symptoms in humans. Hern said her reserve’s intention was not to hurt humans, but to deter poachers from killing animals to take their horns.

Hern said tests are under way to determine the cause of death, initially attributed to complications from either the sedative or the drug intended to revive the animal.


Donna Bryson can be reached at

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Army Col. Oleksander Makhachek during a f...
Associated Press

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?

ZHYTOMYR (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long. Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and […]
24 days ago
(Instagram photo/@Clayton.Wolfe)...
Wills Rice

Arizona realtor announces new listing on ‘the top-floor’ of Mount Everest

Arizona realtor Clayton Wolfe scaled the treacherous 29,035-foot heights of Mount Everest in Nepal and announced a new listing at the summit.
25 days ago
(Photo by: Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

‘Tiger King’ star ‘Doc’ Antle arrested for money laundering charges

“Tiger King” star “Doc” Antle was arrested by the FBI and expected to appear in court Monday to face federal money laundering charges.
25 days ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in Israel for talks with political and business leaders

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is in Israel for five days of talks with political and business leaders of the Middle Eastern country.
1 month ago
A man rides a bicycle in front of a building ruined by shelling in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of ...
Associated Press

Russia takes steps to bolster army, tighten grip on Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order Wednesday to fast track Russian citizenship for residents of parts of southern Ukraine largely held by his forces, while lawmakers in Moscow passed a bill to strengthen the stretched Russian army. Putin’s decree applying to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions could allow Russia to […]
1 month ago
FILE - McDonald's restaurant is seen in the center of Dmitrov, a Russian town 75 km., (47 miles) no...
Associated Press

De-Arching: McDonald’s to sell Russia business, exit country

McDonald’s is closing its doors in Russia, ending an era of optimism and increasing the country’s isolation over its war in Ukraine. The Chicago burger giant confirmed Monday that it is selling its 850 restaurants in Russia. McDonald’s said it will seek a buyer who will employ its 62,000 workers in Russia, and will continue […]
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
South Africa rhino dies in anti-poaching procedure