Rhino Slaughter Shocks DSWF Team – Orphan Baby Rescued

A sickening slaughter of rhinos has been witnessed, first hand by a team from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, as they visited the Foundation’s project partners, Rhino 911, in South Africa.

The team had been on a mission to humanely trim horns from rhinos to deter poachers, but sadly the poachers had got there first. Several carcasses of recently killed rhinos were found, among them a dead female, whose vulnerable orphaned calf was found nearby.

The Rhino 911 and DSWF team discovered several slaughtered rhinos. 

The team sprang into action, capturing the stricken baby rhino and bringing it to safety. The Rhino 911 team then named him ‘David’ in honour of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, which funds Rhino 911’s work.

The orphaned calf was found nearby. Image credit: DSWF.

DSWF’s Head of Programmes and Policy Georgina Lamb was travelling with the Rhino 911 rapid response helicopter when the tragic death toll was discovered.

Georgina, who is David Shepherd’s granddaughter, was accompanied by her sister, the artist Emily Lamb, DSWF Art Ambassador and DSWF Wildlife Ranger Ambassador Jacques Rudolph, who lives in South Africa. The team were deeply moved after witnessing the devastating effects of rhino poaching first hand.

“This is possibly one of the most heart-breaking days I have ever experienced,” said Georgina. “We’re so sad to have to share such horrible news with our supporters, but this really does show why our work is so important. When the orphan rhino was named David as thanks for our support, we were all in tears.”

Video credit: Rhino 911

Rhino 911 pilot and co-founder Nico Jacobs said: “If we hadn’t been here, this little baby rhino would have dehydrated and died. This is the problem we’re facing in South Africa every week – it’s terribly sad that the people can’t unite to save these amazing animals.”

David the baby rhino is thought to be around four months old. Fortunately he was small enough to fit into the back of a Toyota Landcruiser, so he could be transported to safety under the watchful eye of Rhino 911 and supporting vets and handed over to be cared for by The Rhino Orphanage.

Baby David was transported to safety by Rhino 911. DSWF Wildlife Ambassador Jacques Rudolph and Rhino 911 pilot Nico Jacobs. Image credit: Rhino 911.

Rhino 911 is a rapid response helicopter unit, flying in to help wounded or orphaned rhinos with expert veterinary aid. DSWF funding goes directly towards the maintenance and flying costs of the Rhino 911 helicopters to keep the team operational and in the air.

Rhino 911’s Nico added: “Thank you to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation for being here – we really appreciate their support from the UK. Without their support our work would not be possible – we would not be able to stay in the air.”

Rhino 911 operates an emergency response helicopter. Image credit: Rhino 911.

During their eventful trip the team also successfully trimmed the horn from an adult rhino, reducing the risk of it being killed in the future by poachers.

Rhinos’ horns are trimmed to deter poachers. Image credit: Rhino 911.

DSWF’s Georgina Lamb added: “This is what it was all about. It felt heavy in my hands, and quite frankly it simply looked like old wood from the outside. It’s made of keratin, the same substance as our finger nails and hair – and yet people believe this has curative and healing properties that are worth killing for.

“The illegal wildlife trade is a staggering billion dollar industry and after arms trafficking, drugs trafficking and human trafficking, is one of the world most lucrative but destabilising illegal activities. Yet it remains woefully under discussed with a blatant and gross lack of commitment and attention to force change. Neglecting environmental issues and inactivity will be our undoing.”

DSWF’s Georgina Lamb examines freshly trimmed rhino horn. Image credit: DSWF.

In just a decade, more than 7,000 African rhinos have been lost to poaching, to feed the demand in Asian markets for rhino horn, which is wrongly thought to have ancient medicinal properties. From 2007-2014, South Africa saw a growth of over 9,000% in rhino poaching. If poaching continues at this level, this iconic species will be hunted to extinction.

Rhino 911 and DSWF team at a successful horn trimming operation. Georgina Lamb – left. Artist Emily Lamb – right. Image credit: Rhino 911.

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation is proud to fund Rhino 911 in their brave and dedicated efforts.  You can help save this incredible and ancient animal by donating to our work here. Please help us to support them and keep their rescue helicopter flying. Or you can adopt a rhino by visiting our adoption page.

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