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De-horning of Rhinos in South Africa

Rhinos are facing an escalating poaching crisis at the moment and unless something dramatic is done to protect them they will go extinct in the wild. There is no one silver single bullet that helps rhino conservation, what is needed is a wide range of activities. One of these activities is the dehorning of rhinos.


Rhinos have no feeling in their horns, so when they get dehorned by a trained vet, they feel no pain what so ever. The horn gets sawn of about 2 inches from the skin. It is like cutting your nails. Unfortunately, when poachers (illegal hunters) dehorn Rhinos, they cut deep into the flesh of the rhino to get as much horn as possible. This is extremely painful for the animal if it is still alive. In most cases, the rhino is not shot dead but only wounded. They suffer immense pain. You can imagine what it should feel like if someone cuts into your face with a chain saw… A dehorned Rhino has a much better chance at survival and the horn grows back within three years.

The video

Two Rhinos were poached in the area which forced a neighboring farm to dehorn all their rhinos. A team of about 20 people dehorned 4 Rhino cows. A representative of Nature Conservation must be present at all times to ensure that all permits are in place. It takes about 7 minutes for a Rhino to go down after it has been darted and about 15 minutes to dehorn it. At the same time Vets injects them with vitamins. Blood samples are also taken for tests and the condition of each rhino is investigated. A Microchip is then placed in the remaining part of the horn.

When this baby rhino’s mother went down after being darted, it immediately climbed on top of its mother, as if it wanted to protect her. The team had their work cut out to get it away from its mother so that they could start working on her. The calf never moved more than 20 meters away and kept making calling sounds towards its mother. It can be compared to the sounds dolphins make. It is a very unique sound. The calf was very restless throughout the 15 minutes that mum was down. It also charged the team a couple of times. It was however not long before mum was back on her feet and rejoined her calf as they walked back into the bush.

Rhino poaching is a huge problem in South Africa. Farmers are literarily spending millions of rand for security and protection of the remaining Rhinos. At the moment they are losing the war, but they will continue to fight against Rhino Poaching.

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