Anti-poaching op kills Spencer the rhino PDF Print E-mail

10 February, 2012

The owner of Spencer, a rhino who died yesterday from an anaesthetic while being micro-chipped, and having poison and dye added to his horn, says he will continue using the procedure on other rhinos.
Ed Hern, who owns the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, at Kromdraai, on the West Rand, employed vets to insert poison, dye and a microchip into the horns of 10 of his rhinos as a poaching deterrent.

Spencer, a 22-year-old white rhino, died after having a seizure during an operation at the farm. The animal apparently had a severe reaction to the anaesthetic, but the underlying cause is unknown.

Before this incident, Hern said, all procedures on 10 other rhinos had been successful. The vets who were involved have performed about 20 of the procedures.

Hern took the decision to micro-chip his rhino in response to the widespread rhino poaching problem in the country.

More than 440 rhino were poached in South Africa in 2011, and 333 in 2010.

\More than 30 were killed in the first six weeks of 2012.

Brett Gardner, a vet at Johannesburg Zoo, who tried to stabilise the rhino, said he still advocates the procedure and hopes to use it on three rhinos at the zoo.

Gardner said the procedure itself is not dangerous but some animals are adversely affected by anaesthetics, as are some humans.

Although a rhino cannot feel holes being drilled into its horn, an anaesthetic is needed to calm the animal, according to the MD of the SA Veterinary Association, Banie Penzhorn.

"Whenever an anaesthetic is given to an animal there is always a risk. With humans, doctors can give the patient a questionnaire but with animals it is harder to diagnose an underlying medical condition," said Penzhorn.

"Spencer was in the prime of his life," said Hern. "Obviously it is a heart-breaking moment, like a death in the family. He lived on the farm for over 15 years. He fathered two calves and impregnated two other cows."

Gardner blamed poaching on Spencer's death.

An autopsy is being performed and the results are expected today.

Source: Times Live



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