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Professional hunters suspected in Eastern Cape rhino poaching

February 23, 2015
One of the rhino carcasses found after the first attack. Rhino owner Elvin Krull says the poachers used an axe to remove the horns. Photo by Div De Villiers used with permission

Rhino owner Elvin Krull says the poachers used an axe to remove the horns. Photo by Div De Villiers used with permission

An Eastern Cape game and hunting reserve in South Africa has had two poaching attacks in 11 days with five rhinos killed for their horns and one injured.

The hunting reserve owner suspects that it was the same professional hunters in both poaching incidents. In the most recent attack on February 22, three rhinos were killed and had their horns cut off while a fourth, a cow which survived, was found wandering from the scene by a helicopter. Eleven days before two rhinos were shot and killed on the same property.

The reserve manager Frank Krull says they discovered the recent attack because they were using a helicopter to spot rhino to dehorn them as a safeguard after the first attack, the Daily Dispatch newspaper in Port Alfred reported.

It all started when the reserve owner Elvin Krull, 80, found the first two rhino carcasses on a remote part of his property during a routine drive.

He says he suspects the same professional hunters in both attacks because of the bullet placement and the tracking skills.

“It’s not nice to see big animals like this lying dead with their faces hacked off,” the former hunter says.

“The poachers cut off the horns with axes,” Mr Krull says.

He believes the hunters had knowledge of his property.

 

The ex-cattle farmer turned game breeder says the sale of rhino horn needs to be legalised or “there won’t be any rhino left”.

Many rhino owners in South Africa have stopped keeping rhino because of the expense of antipoaching security and the threat to their own safety.

“They [his rhinos] are becoming a nuisance to me now [because of the poaching]. This is not something I need right now,” says Mr Krull, who recently turned 80.

Mr Krull says he has patched up “as good as I can” the rhino who was shot but survived, saying he wasn’t sure if the bullet was still in her or if it had passed right through. She isn’t limping he says which means the bullet didn’t hit bone.

Some antipoachers believe that for every two rhino that are killed there is one who is wounded that survives.

Mr Krull hasn’t been contacted for a comment on the second incident yet.

A local journalist, Chief Reporter of the Daily Dispatch in East London, Mike Loewe, who spoke to Mr Krull’s son, Frank Krull soon after the rhino’s discovery in the first incident says Frank Krull called for ballistic checks of all hunting rifles of park rangers.

The journalist says the Director of Green Scorpions in Eastern Cape’s Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Div De Villiers has confirmed the second incident and called for community members who have heard anything, “even pillow talk”, to come forward.

Mr De Villiers says the situation with rhino poaching in the Eastern Cape is” pretty tense”.

He says any information about rhino poaching needs to be shared very carefully. He says SAPS and EC Green Scorpions are investigating.
Karl Krull says he will dehorn any remaining rhino on his property to deter any further poaching.

15 rhinos were poached in the Eastern Cape last year.

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