'Poaching not the only cause of rhino deaths'

Vuma (R) a calf of a rhino cow killed by poachers for her horn, was pictured on 23 July 2010, being cared for by game reserve employees at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve near Muldersdrift. Picture: Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - Wildlife experts on Monday said poaching is not the only cause of rhino deaths in South Africa, with many of them dying while being moved off game reserves.

Several game farm owners in the North West have decided to move rhino off their reserves following the recent wave of poaching incidents in the province.

Officials from the Rhino Orphan Response Project say many game farmers are not following the correct procedure when the animals are moved, which results in further casualties.

Manager Karen Trendler says the way that rhino are being moved warrants an investigation.

“There are rhino have been snared that are not included in poaching statistics.”

Police spokesperson Paul Ramaloko says a special poaching task team is already looking into the issue.

“Our investigation in this regard goes across the board, though we cannot say who is being investigated.”

The response project says rhino that are relocated under immense stress often battle to adapt to their new homes.

So far, over 500 rhino have been poached in South Africa since the beginning of 2012.

(Edited by Zethu Zulu)