The Lalibela Game Reserve, located just outside Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, have appealed for assistance following the killing of four white rhino at the reserve on Tuesday.
The four rhino, including a pregnant cow, were shot with what appears to have been strong tranquilisers and had their horns meticulously cut off while still alive. Three of the rhino had already succumbed by the time they were discovered on Tuesday morning at around 8.30am, while the pregnant cow had to be euthanized.
In a message on their website the management of the reserve stated that following the incident they had realised that the reserve’s existing security measures were unable to deal with the increasingly high-tech and professional methods employed by the poachers.
“Lalibela is about conservation and it is run on business principles in order to finance our conservation efforts. The costs involved and measures required to protect our rhinos are such that we simply can no longer do it alone without outside assistance,” they wrote.
The resort management said staff at the resort were still in a state of shock over what has happened.
They also said they had been overwhelmed by the number of messages of support over the past two days, with many people asking what could be done to assist.
Carl van Zyl, a member of the family that had started Lalibela, said that what had started out as a beautiful summer’s day, turned into a day of shock and horror.
“Words cannot describe the hollowness inside. The loss has left a family, its partners and staff in shock,” he said.
Van Zyl said Police, detectives and special investigators were hard at work doing what they could to track down the guilty parties, but that there had been no further developments yesterday.
“As many of you are aware and may know the siege of rhino poaching carries on in Southern Africa, with South Africa being the hardest hit off all. Four Hundred and Thirteen – 413 – That means as of today 1.5 Rhino’s are poached for their horn EVERY SINGLE DAY in South Africa.
“Then you may notice the + 4. Rather insignificant when you consider 413. It may be insignificant to those who have never put their heart and soul into these animals or spent their life savings on a piece of land that may never have succeeded, and wake up each morning believing in a dream. It’s rather significant when those 4 belong to you,” he said.
“Personally, on behalf of the family I’d like to thank the numerous phone calls, text messages and emails of support. Both the local and international support has been astounding,” said Van Zyl.
What can you do to help?
1. Lalibela has called on anyone who may be involved in any way with an organisation that is involved with rhino conservation and who would be able to assist to contact them on [email protected].
2. They also called on members of the public to share their tragedy with as many people as possible across the globe in order to achieve two things:
a) to educate people in South-East Asia (especially China and Vietnam) that rhino horn has NO medicinal or magical properties WHATSOEVER!
b) to get as many activists and lobbyists to champion the cause of rhino conservation across the globe
3. The game reserve has also established a conservation fund, administered by their lawyers, Messrs Neave Stotter Attorneys. Funds received will only be for rhino conservation purposes at Lalibela. All contributors will be acknowledged and will receive quarterly updates from their conservation department.
Anyone interested in making a donation can contact Lalibela on [email protected] for details.