A baby white rhino has been orphaned after poachers killed its mother for just one centimetre of her horn.
Heartbreaking photos have appeared online of the 20-year-old rhino, lying dead on the ground with a bloody wound where her horn once was.
The much-loved rhino, Bella, was living in South Africa and had recently been ‘dehorned’ for her own protection – but sadly poachers still wanted the one-centimetre nub which was left behind.
Warning: Graphic content:
Bella, who was a mother to four rhinos, had been living in Kragga Kamma Game Park in Eastern Cape when she was killed.
Her youngest calf, Tank, was seen the following morning trying to befriend another mother and calf as Bella lay dead in the protected site.
A statement from the Kragga Kamma Game Park read:
The worst tragedy has befallen our family of rhino here at Kragga Kamma Game Park. Our beautiful matriarch of 20 years old was brutally slain by poachers on Thursday night, her young bull calf Tank left an orphan.
Unbelievably she, along with her other herd mates, were dehorned again just a week ago (their biennial trim), it’s beyond comprehension that she would be killed for a mere 1cm of horn.
Ayesha Cantor, who runs the park, put out a message on her own Facebook page, branding Bella’s death ‘a waste’, which is very much is.
It’s just so unreal, for 1cm of horn – we cannot comprehend the waste of it all.
We have always been acutely aware that these rhino are everyone’s rhino, that we are merely their custodians, this has been evident in your outpouring of emotions.
Thank you dear friends, we know that you are as devastated by this as we are.
Earlier today (July 1), Ayesha updated her followers on Tank’s progress, telling them he was ‘much more relaxed’.
So sorry to have stressed everyone out last night…it’s a much better day for today…he is with Chuck who has no aggro towards him.
We are giving him some Lucerne to boost his intake seeing as how he is not getting his mother’s rich milk.
Chuck and a few other friends are benefiting too.
Tank seems so much more relaxed and ‘normal’ this morning…fingers crossed that he is on his way to finding a new normal.
Your outpouring of love is incredible and carries us through this, thank you – thank you. [sic]
So sorry to have stressed everyone out last night…it’s a much better day for #Tank today…he is with #Chuck who has…
Posted by Ayesha Cantor on Sunday, 1 July 2018
The park said they will continue to monitor Tank and ‘do the best’ they can.
We have no choice but to continue to do the very best we can for our remaining rhino. We will also be watching Tank closely to make sure that he is getting enough sustenance, no longer having access to his mothers milk. Rhino are usually weaned at around two years of age, at 16 months old he is not too far off the mark so he should be fine.
In March, this year, the last male northern White rhino, Sudan, died.
Sudan had been suffering from a degenerative muscle and bone condition linked to old age when keepers in Kenya found he was unable to stand up, and had to make the difficult decision to put him to sleep.
My heart can’t take this.
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