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Two rhino orphans brutally killed in FOUR PAWS supported Rhino orphanage Thula Thula

FOUR PAWS calls on the South African government to prohibit the export of Rhino horn


SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 24, 2017 – FOUR PAWS, the international animal welfare organization, is shocked at the incident that occurred this week when a heavily-armed poaching syndicate attacked the FOUR PAWS supported Fundimvelo Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in northern Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. The poachers took the volunteer rhino caregivers hostage, mutilated the two 18 months old rhinos Impi and Gugu and removed their horns. Gugu died outright‚ and Impy had to be euthanized the following day because of the severity of her injuries.


The Fundimvelo Thula Thula Rhino orphanage was created in 2014 with the support of FOUR PAWS and the Fundimvelo Community Trust. It offers refuge to baby rhinos who have lost their mothers to poachers.


Fiona Miles, Country Director at FOUR PAWS South Africa stated, ”The facility is crucial to provide orphan rhinoceroses the possibility to be rehabilitated and returned to the wild. This brutal attack on an orphanage shows once again that rhino poachers will stop at nothing.  Our immediate thoughts and prayers are with the whole Thula Thula team.”


South Africa is home to almost 80% of Africa’s rhinos, whose fate hangs in the balance. Meanwhile, the South African government has hesitated to release rhino poaching statistics and rhino owners’ have to react as if in a war zone, continually sharpening efforts to protect their animals.


“We condemn this horrific incident, and demand that Rhinos are offered the highest protection by the South African government by adopting a zero tolerance policy for poaching and retracting the draft regulations published this week proposing legal domestic trade. We strongly oppose the draft regulations, and urge the government to instead draft new regulations forbidding all export of rhinoceros horn. The proposed regulations lay the basis for a legal domestic trade in rhino horn that would allow foreigners, including those from major rhino horn consuming countries, to travel to South Africa, buy horn and export it for “personal” purposes back to their home countries.  Now more than ever we need their commitment to protecting our wildlife.” Fiona Miles concluded.


The main threat to rhinos is illegal hunting for the rhino horn trade mainly to Asian markets for the use in traditional Chinese medicine and, to a lesser extent, as status symbols or for ornamental use. Between 2006 and 2015 more than 5,000 rhinos were poached in South Africa with about 1,200 animals killed annually in 2014 and 2015. On the black market, the price for one kilo of rhino horn can be up to $60,000 which strongly drives poaching and illegal trade.


Rhino poaching is not the only cruelty wild animals face in South Africa. An excess of the strongly growing wildlife industry is the breeding of lions for commercial purposes. In South Africa approximately 8,000 lions await a terrible fate being shot at canned hunts with their bones being legally exported to Asia for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine feeding the same markets that trigger the massive rhino poaching with insatiable greed for horn. FOUR PAWS works towards rescue of captive lions all over the world and pushes for national and international policy changes that protect the species.