On the 21/02/2017, the worst possible thing happened at Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage, a refuge and rehabilitation centre for rhinos and other animals who have lost their families to poaching.
Two armed men stormed into the orphanage, ripped out the security cameras, held the staff hostage, raped one of the female carers and shot two 18-month-old white rhinos, Impy and Gugu in front of the carers. Both rhinos had their horns brutally removed, which the poachers will probably try and sell for a large amount of money.
Karen Trendler, the director of Thula Thula, said in a Facebook Live interview “as a rhino person who is rehabilitating rhinos in this poaching crisis, you think that your worst fear is that one of the rhino that you’re working on is going to be shot or injured or killed – so that worst nightmare was realized … it’s just beyond comprehension.”
Gugu immediately died after being shot, but Impy remained alive, despite being badly injured. “They did deface him [Impy] while he was still alive, and it was so bad that he had to be euthanized,” Trendler said in a tearful interview.
“Impy survived a particularly brutal poaching,” Trendler went on. “He stayed at his mother’s carcass for six days, moving away just a short distance to eat … because he was obviously very hungry and very thirsty. And when he came in, I still remember so clearly, sitting with this tiny little rhino who was covered in blood splatter from where they shot the mom, and he smelled terribly of carcass fluids, and … that reality hitting me — this is what rhino poaching is about, this is what these little guys go through.”
Simon Jones, Founder and CEO of Helping Rhinos condemned this atrocity stating “This was more than another poaching incident. This was an attack on the civil liberties of law abiding, caring conservationists”
Jones went on, “In March 2012, the poaching of Thandi, Themba and another bull at Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, a place I had spent six weeks at in 2010, was the final straw for me. I needed to act and Helping Rhinos was born”.
“In the five years since that horrific day in 2012, the level of poaching in South Africa and in Africa has reached record highs”.
“But there have been some positives along the way. Progress has been made in some areas and Helping Rhinos has gone from strength to strength, working in partnership with our key field projects: Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, the Black Mambas all female anti-poaching unit in South Africa and the Fundimvelo Thula Rhino Orphanage in South Africa”.
Almost five years to the day since the poaching of Thandi, a day as horrific and tragic presented itself. Fundimvelo Thula Rhino Orphanage (FTTRO), a place I had visited on several occasions and am proud to say that Helping Rhinos enjoys an ever-strengthening working relationship with, was targeted by a gang of poachers.
The gang penetrated the security patrols and fences. Once inside the grounds of the orphanage they attacked the staff and held them hostage before turning their intentions on the rhinos. The two oldest rhinos, Gugu and Impy were both left dead.
“I did not think I would feel such a dark, personal anguish again as when the news of Thandi broke, however I find myself once again shocked, angry and heartbroken”.
“Heartbroken for the loss of two rhinos I first met as young calves when they arrived at FTTRO and who, during my visits over the years I had witnessed them grow into sub-adults almost ready for release back into the wild. Heartbroken at the physical and emotional pain and suffering being felt by the team of carers I have come to know well over the last three years”.
“This was more than another poaching incident. This was an attack on the civil liberties of law abiding, caring conservationists”.
“My feelings of despair and rage must be nothing compared to the feelings of those poor dedicated souls who have cared for these rhinos every day from when they arrived. My emotions must pale into insignificance for what the team are feeling as they wonder if their attackers will return”.
“The strength and courage shown by the team, putting the welfare of the remaining orphan calves above their own feelings should act as an inspiration to all of us.My thoughts and the thoughts of the whole team around the world are with you my friends”.
“Of course this is not an isolated incident, but it is the first such brutal attack on an orphanage. An attack on any such facility would be tragic beyond words, but the fact it happened to our partners at FTTRO makes it somehow even harder to take”.
“As was the case with Thandi, I was driven to do more to help, and I know that the feelings I have now will drive me and our team to once again regroup and double our efforts to make a difference. I ask that you join us and use the hurt in a positive way to ensure this incident is not repeated”.
“Way back on that fateful day of 2nd March 2012, with Thandi laying in a pool of blood, her face hacked away, no-one could have imagined that just five years later she would have given birth to two new calves. It is the responsibility of all of us now to ensure that the darkest day for the Fundimvelo Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage leads to happier days”.
“We can make this happen by helping to upgrade security, increase intelligence work and furthering relations with the local communities. What we need now is to act quickly for the protection of the remaining rhinos and also, of course, all the dedicated staff at the orphanage with deadly anti-poaching actions and extra security that they need”.
PLEASE support these wonderful people in their hour of need.
I have started a crowd-funding page to raise funds to help Thula Thula increase their security. PLEASE help by donating through Just Giving at The Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage Emergency Fund
Please SHARE this page to raise awareness about this issue and feel free to leave a comment below. You can also sign up for UPDATES & NEW ARTICLES by submitting your email details in the right-hand column. But most of all NEVER give up fighting for the future of wildlife! Thank You, Paul.
And remember – #ThereIsNoExcuseForAnimalAbuse – EVER!!
Rhino Horn Is Not Medicine ~ 犀 牛 角 不 是 醫 學 ~ Rhino Horn là không phải là thuốc