A game ranger student from Scotland was seriously injured after being attacked by a black rhino in northern Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.
According to IPSS Medical Rescue, the student was on foot in a private game reserve when he was trampled and gored by the rhino.
After being called to the scene, search and rescue teams and anti-poaching units in the area located the student and stabilised him before evacuating him.
He was taken to hospital by private KZN emergency services in a critical condition.
Dwindling black rhino numbers
Poaching statistics released in February point to black and white rhino numbers dwindling fast in KZN.
This while the embattled Ezemvelo Wildlife Board remains suspended.
The board was suspended in August 2020 due to “prima facie allegations”, said tourism and environmental affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube in a statement at the time.
Concrete reasons for the board’s suspension were never revealed, nor whether a new board would be appointed, despite numerous requests for information by The Citizen.
Ezemvelo is responsible for directing biodiversity conservation management in the province and is central to the fight against rhino poaching in the province.
Fast facts about the black rhino
The black rhino, a smaller species than the white rhino, has been critically endangered for most of the 21st century.
ALSO READ: Rhino poachers are winning the war in KZN
Although numbers are increasing slightly when compared to figures provided by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from the 1990s, the species remains of significant concern to conservation groups.
Here are some fascinating facts about the black rhino, courtesy of organisation Save the Rhino:
- Black rhinos are most active at night. This is when they feed and drink.
- Black rhinos are identified by their hooked lip.
- There are four subspecies of black rhino: the southern central black rhino, eastern black rhino, south western black rhino and western black rhino.
- An adult male black rhino can weight up to 1,350kg and a female up to 900kg. When they are born, black rhinos weight a whopping 35-45kg.
- Black rhinos are appealing to poachers due to having two horns. Males usually have thicker horns, with females having longer, thinner horns. The front horn can grow up to 50cm long.
- Black rhinos can be distinguished from white rhinos by the lack of a pronounced hump on their backs. They have smaller heads and eat from higher bushes and trees.
- It is thought they were mostly solitary, but documentary footage over the years has proved they can be social creatures. A male black rhino’s territorial range can range between 3.9km and 4.7km.
- Females are pregnant for 15 to 17 months. Calves stay with their mothers for up to four years before being made to fend for themselves.
- Black rhinos can run up to 55km/h.