Bungled conservation effort kills S. African rhino

JOHANNESBURG Thu Feb 9, 2012 11:19pm IST

A worker holds a rhino during a media demonstration at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, in the Cradle of Humankind outside Johannesburg, February 9 2012. Rhino Rescue Project said the rhino later died after veterinarians administered a drug to wake him up after a micro chip and tracking device were implanted in his horn. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

A worker holds a rhino during a media demonstration at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, in the Cradle of Humankind outside Johannesburg, February 9 2012. Rhino Rescue Project said the rhino later died after veterinarians administered a drug to wake him up after a micro chip and tracking device were implanted in his horn.

Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Related Topics

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A group of animal conservationists in South Africa accidentally killed a rhinoceros they were attempting to make safe from poachers in a botched public relations event.

Spencer the rhino went into convulsions and died after he was shot with a tranquiliser dart in front of a crush of TV cameras and photographers who had been invited to document an operation to insert a poison capsule into his horn.

Conservationists from the Rhino Rescue Project said sedating rhinos with darts was a tricky business that sometimes went awry and rejected suggestions that the poison capsule had caused Spencer's death.

"The rhino had an unfortunate reaction to the anaesthesia," Rhino Rescue Project spokeswoman Lorinda Hern said. "Every time you dart a rhino, you take a risk that the rhino might not wake up and unfortunately today was one of those days."

Conservation groups insert poison capsules into the horns of rhinos, which release poison into the horn when it is removed from the animal and are meant to render the horn value-less for hunters seeking to sell it on for use in traditional medicine.

Conservation groups have inserted poison into the horns of rhinos or removed their horns in an effort to deter poachers. Both procedures require rhinos to be sedated.

A record 448 rhinos were killed by poachers last year in South Africa, home to the greatest number of the animals. Rising demand in Asia for their horns has led to an increase in illegal hunting.

A decade ago South Africa, with more than 20,000 rhinos, was losing about 15 animals a year to poachers. But poaching has increased dramatically since about 2007 as the spread of wealth in places like Vietnam and Thailand has enabled more people to buy rhino horn, which scientists say has no real medicinal uses.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz and Reuters Television, editing by Paul Casciato)

FILED UNDER:

Reuters Showcase

Countering China

Countering China

PM Modi to ramp up help for Indian Ocean nations to counter China influence  Full Article 

'India's Daughter'

'India's Daughter'

Society created Delhi gang rape convicts: Filmmaker Leslee Udwin.  Full Article | Related Story 

Kohli Censured

Kohli Censured

BCCI warns Virat Kohli against repeat of misbehaviour.  Full Article 

MUDRA Bank

MUDRA Bank

Funding the unfunded: India helps small business borrow to grow  Full Article 

PML(N)'s Hope

PML(N)'s Hope

Pakistan's ruling party looks for gains in upper house election  Full Article 

For Women's Right

For Women's Right

Afghan men don burqas, take to the streets for women's rights.  Full Article 

U.S. Envoy Attacked

U.S. Envoy Attacked

Knife-wielding attacker slashes face of U.S. ambassador in South Korea  Full Article 

New Strategy

New Strategy

Ashwin mulls 'one-sided' ploy against big-hitters.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage