‘They are killed in a horrific way’ - Norfolk man set to take on white rhino hunters in South Africa
- Credit: Archant
Horrified and in tears, game reserve manager Lynne MacTavish sits by white rhinoceros Winnie who was senselessly slaughtered for her horns in South Africa.
Rhino poaching in the continent has reached crisis point and it is feared they could be extinct within 10 years.
Their plight has inspired Norfolk man Kristian Carder to spend three months with an anti-poaching unit in South Africa.
It will be dangerous work and some of his colleagues will be armed.
Mr Carder, from Hindolveston near Fakenham, said: 'All rhinos out in the wild are easy pickings. Six were killed in the last week and often it is done in a horrific way.
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'They try not to use guns so they don't alert anti-poaching units and instead they use a machete and paralyse them before cutting the eyes so the rhino can't see.
'After that they use a chainsaw to remove the horn. Many times the rhino is left alive.'
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Mr Carder, who is studying ecology and conservation through the UEA, was offered the opportunity to join the anti-poaching team at South Africa's Mankwe Game Reserve after an initial visit five months ago.
He heads back on August 17 and will join the reserve's team desperately trying to combat a surge in poaching, which has seen record numbers of rhinos killed.
Mr Carder said: 'They estimate that the white rhino could be extinct by 2035. The next generation may never see them in the wild.'
Rhinos are poached for their horn which has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine where they believe that it can reduce fevers and act as an aphrodisiac.
Recently, in Vietnam, demand has rocketed due to an urban myth that people can be cured of cancer.
One kilogram of rhino horn is said to be worth around 60,000 American dollars, a higher price than gold.
Mr Carder said: 'I'll be working during the night from about 7pm until 7am. We will being going out to find the rhino and keep our distance but follow them and watch for poachers.
'Some in the unit will carry firearms. It can be dangerous work. We'll follow the rhino and make sure that we scare off or arrest poachers. It is risky but it is worth it.'
Lynne MacTavish, operations manager at Mankwe Game Reserve, says the level of rhino poaching in Africa has now reached 'crisis point'.
She said: 'Four rhinos are killed each day and this has plunged the species into a decline which means at present there are more rhino being killed than being born. If this trend continues the rhino could be extinct in the next 10 years.
'To save them, private reserves have invested millions in developing anti-poaching teams to patrol 24 hours a day but they are still losing the war.'
'In a last desperate attempt to save them, many of the reserves have to dehorn their rhino once a year.
'The Mankwe Wildlife Reserve was attacked by poachers in 2014 and we lost five of our beloved rhino, including a six month old calf and an unborn calf.
'Kristian's commitment and dedication to the cause will be invaluable to the team and ultimately the rhino.'