Susan Lottering poses with Barendina, a life-size fibreglass statue of a rhino at Lombardini Game Reserve which was damaged by an apparently drunk poacher. (Werner Hills, Die Burger)
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Mariska Spoormaker, Die Burger
Port Elizabeth – Somewhere in the Jeffreyâ€™s Bay area, a fibreglass rhino poacher is on the loose.
In the early hours of Monday morning he pulled the animal from its pedestal, dragged it outside and chopped off its horns, disappearing into the night.
On Monday morning, Susan Lottering, co-owner of Lombardini Game Reserve, found the reserve’s maimed mascot, named Barendina.
She told how her feelings ranged from surprise and anger to laughter.
On Monday, whenever someone mentioned â€œfibreglass rhino hornâ€? to any staff at Lombardini, they would burst into loud laughter.
Some wondered seriously whether the â€œpoacherâ€? was under the influence or just greedy when he made a fool of himself.
Possibly a bit of both, thought Lottering. â€œThe intruder was probably looking for money and when he couldnâ€™t find it, he looked for refreshments in the bar.â€?
It would appear as though â€œhe had some stroh rum and liqueur when his eye fell on the rhino hornâ€?.
â€œHe must have heard somewhere that it was worth something because then it was just him and the rhino, and there was still a cupboard full of brandy and rum,â€? said Lottering.
When she called the police, she merely mentioned the burglary. â€œI was scared if I said rhino poaching, they would accuse me of making a false charge or something.
â€œBut they could also not believe their eyes when they saw Barendina lying without her horns.â€?
The damage to Barendina is extensive and she would have to be replaced, said Johan Lottering, co-owner. â€œThere is no hope of rehabilitation.â€?
This was rather sad, considering that Barendina was made from the cast of the first (real) rhino cow in the reserve.
But they reassured all that Barendina or a new fibreglass rhino – with both horns – would return.
– In October last year, Lombardini dehorned the reserve’s 10 white rhino to prevent them from being targeted by poachers.