De-Horning Rhino by the International Anti-Poaching Foundation
by Pete Roberts
De-Horned Rhino (Courtesy IAPF)
Back in September last year the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) led an operation on the Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve to de-horn five critically endangered black rhino. The rhino were darted from a helicopter by Zimbabwean Vet Dr Chris Foggin. Ground teams then moved to the location of the downed animals to stabilize their breathing and body temperatures.
Samples were taken by the Wild Horizons Trust team to be analyzed in their new laboratory facilities in Victoria Falls. The whole day went very well and all animals were back on their feet in a short amount of time. Both mother and calf couples were reunited with each other within 24 hours.
The shame is, to protect these rhino, they must disfigure the very feature that defines them. Although extremely sad, the idea behind de-horning is to take away the value of the horn in an effort to protect the animal. With less than 2,500 black rhino now left in the world the situation is desperate.
Occasionally de-horned animals are still killed by poachers out of spite or to reduce their chance of tracking the same animal again, but overall their chances of survival are much greater without the horn. The horn, much like hair or fingernails will grow back within 3 years and the process of de-horning will need to be repeated.
The illegal trafficking of wildlife is now the third-biggest criminal industry in the world. And although its value as a medicine and aphrodisiac has been proven false, demand for rhino horn is so insatiable that even the calves must have their small horns removed.
The funding to complete this important operation was generously donated by Channel 9's 60 Minutes film crew from Australia. Footage of the operation was used in a profile piece called "Damien’s War", which was broadcast in late September and helped raise awareness of the IAPF and its work.
To view the documentary online visit this page
Damien Mander sold just about everything he owned and invested $250,000 to create the International Anti Poaching Foundation. His plans for an anti-poaching army might sound ambitious, but nowhere is it more needed than strife-torn Zimbabwe. For more on the work of the IAPF visit http://www.iapf.org/