The Chief Executive of the Park, Andrew Zaloumis, said the move to dehorn the rhino came as a result of increased incidents of poaching within conservation areas in KZN as well as at the Kruger National Park (KNP) over the past two years, Lowvelder reported.
“With the dehorning work complete and the western shores ‘horn free’, the rhino are now less vulnerable to poaching, able to roam freely and breed without being targeted for their horn,” he said.
According to conservation group Save the Rhino, Namibia was the first country to dehorn rhinos for their protection against poaching.
Between 1989 and the early 1990s, dehorning along with beefed up anti-poaching security measures apparently led to the decline of poaching. Not a single dehorned rhino was poached in Namibia.
During the same period, however, the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe had the majority of its dehorned rhinos were killed just 12-18 months after being dehorned, the group said.
Environmental expert, Dr Gerhard Verdoorn said although dehorning rhino helped curb poaching to an extent, he described this practice as only a temporary deterrent to a “bigger problem”.
“Dehorning does help but it does not stop poaching, as poachers sometimes shoot these dehorned rhino out of spite,” he said.
He added, the dehorning process also disrupted the animal’s social behaviour. Because rhino naturally grow horns for protection, cutting these horns leaves them exposed to the elements.
“It becomes difficult for rhino to protect themselves from predators. It also disrupts their behaviour, for instance, with male rhinos who fight over territory and mates,” he added.
– Caxton News Service