Nick Fox, the owner of the Sibuya Game Reserve, said by phone on Friday that the two white rhino cows were killed in the early hours of Thursday morning.
“There is one bull that has survived. We have been trying to track him all day,” said Fox.
He said that the three rhino were were shot with dart gun.
“They [the poachers] use a dart gun because they don’t want make a noise and alert people.”
Fox said that the reserve’s anti-poaching unit had gone to check on a another group of rhinos, but when they returned, the two calves came running towards them. One of the calves had blood on them.
“We knew then that there was a problem,” said Fox.
The dehorned adult rhino were later found dead.
Both the calves — a three month old calf and an 11-month old calf — had to be sent away to to be hand reared.
Fox said police had been at the reserve all day on Thursday, but comment could not immediately be obtained from them.
“It’s very bad. It seems there is definitely a group [of poachers] that is moving into the Eastern Cape,” he said.
It is believed that this is the seventh and eighth rhinos killed in the Eastern Cape.
There are an estimated 20,000 white rhino left in the world, with most of those in South Africa. In recent years poaching figures have climbed. In 2007 a mere 13 rhinos were poached in South Africa. In 2015 this had climbed to 1,175 rhinos, which was slightly down on the record 1,215 that were killed by poachers in 2014.
According to the Save the Rhino Foundation the current poaching crisis is attributed to the growing demand for rhino horn in Asian countries, mainly Vietnam and China. Vietnam has been identified as the largest user country of rhino horn.
Although rhino horn has no proven scientific medical benefits, consumers in these countries are using it to treat a wide range of conditions, from cancer to hangovers, and due to its high value it is now also used as a status symbol by wealthy individuals.
– African News Agency