Three white rhinos were found dead and a fourth, pregnant and barely alive, had to be shot by a game ranger after they were poisoned and dehorned by poachers. The grisly discovery at the Lalibela Game Reserve near Grahamstown yesterday came only three days after the Hawks were removed from the Eastern Cape's anti-poaching team – and four days after World Rhino Day.
The hulking carcasses of one cow and two bulls, as well as the nearly dead pregnant cow, were found during a game drive by a group a tourists and their guide just after 8am.
It is believed the rhinos were shot with poison darts some time on Tuesday night. Empty dart cartridges were found scattered around the scene.
So far, 394 rhinos have been poached since January, with the Kruger National Park having lost 241. This is just 54 short of the 488 rhinos killed last year.
The horns of the four rhinos had been "clinically" sawed off and the carcasses were in a straight line at 10m intervals. The carcasses were about 500m from the N2.
Upset Lalibela head game ranger Kelly Pote described the scene as "brutally devastating".
By Michael Kimberley and Gareth Wilson
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