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

Kishore Pandey, 82, lies on a bed as his daughter, Usha Tiwari, holds him and a priest stands by them (L) at Mukti Bhavan (Salvation House) in Varanasi, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, June 19, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Waiting to die at Salvation House

The city of Varanasi is Hinduism's holiest city and many Hindus believe that dying there and having their remains scattered in the Ganges allows their soul to escape a cycle of death and rebirth.  Slideshow 

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:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Mideast Conflict

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Development Report

Development Report

U.N. urges sustained effort to improve flagging development.  Full Article 

Downed Plane

Downed Plane

"Weeks or months" until Malaysian remains from MH17 can be returned home - PM.  Full Article 

Food Scandal

Food Scandal

China probes 581 firms, restaurants as food safety scare spreads.  Full Article 

Plane Crash

Plane Crash

Taiwan says weather not seen as cause of plane crash that killed 48.  Full Article 

Fighting Polio

Fighting Polio

Nigeria may have no polio cases next year, says Bill Gates.  Full Article 

Health Study

Health Study

Paracetamol no better than placebo for low back pain, study finds.  Full Article 

Strategic Plans

Strategic Plans

China plans railway to India, Nepal borders by 2020.  Full Article 

Leaving Russia

Leaving Russia

Disenchanted with Putin, some Russians vote with their feet.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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