23 September, 2016
Partnering up in KwaZulu-Natal to save rhinos
|Siya Ndlela & Hilton veterinary surgeon Ryan van Deventer.
The beautiful 700ha Gwahumbe
& Spa in Mid-Illovo, KwaZulu-Natal, is the latest private reserve
to join the ranks of others which have dehorned their rhinos. Its
partnership with Husqvarna and Hilton veterinary surgeon
Dr Ryan van Deventer will, hopefully, ensure the survival of the
lodge's last remaining male rhino, eight-year-old Vuyo - and finally
allow the expansion of its herd.
said Gwahumbe Game & Spa director Shanon MacKenzie, "We were too
anxious about Vuyo's safety to allow him to be photographed, and we
postponed adding to the herd because of the risk of poachers wanting
their horns. We are extremely fond of him: he came here when he was just
three. The decision to dehorn him was made with his survival and safety
very much at the forefront of our minds."
devastating decline in the rhino population - and the poachers'
savagery- is just one of the issues on the agenda for this year's CITES
Conference* (24 September-5 October in Johannesburg). Sadly, the battle
for the animal's survival has been a losing one, until recently.
local rhino-dehorning campaign, using Husqvarna outdoor power products,
is proving highly successful in the bid to save these beautiful animals
from poachers. In KwaZulu-Natal, particularly, the practice is gaining
momentum, with increasing numbers of private game reserves voting for
process was first used to help reduce poaching pressure in Zimbabwe in
the 1980s. When rhinos are dehorned professionally, the horn is taken
above the growth layer of the skin. Rhino horn is like a fingernail:
you can cut it or trim it without stopping continued growth. But
poachers brutally uproot the entire horn from its base under the skin in
Dr Ryan van Deventer started working on the dehorning project a year
ago in various KwaZulu-Natal areas, including, more recently, at the
Gwahumbe Game & Spa.
dehorning, many rhino owners used ankle bracelets and horn transmitters
for monitoring purposes," he said. "Although some of them are still
resistant to dehorning, as the poaching problem escalates more and more
reserves are realising they need to minimise the risk to the animals.
It's not a total solution to the problem but merely part of a holistic
plan to try to prevent poaching."
Husqvarna Group, a global frontrunner in the manufacture of forest,
agricultural and garden power products, has provided Van Deventer with a
battery chainsaw and a petrol one - the petrol saw for the initial
cutting, and the
battery saw for the finer trimming.
vets who work with rhinos are also relying on Husqvarna's battery
blowers to keep the rhino cool during the dehorning process. Battery
products are fuel free so produce no harmful emissions. They are also
quieter than their petrol equivalents and lower noise levels mean less
anxiety for the sedated animal.
Husqvarna chainsaw is quicker than an oscillating saw," said Van
Deventer. "Once the animal is immobilised and stable, the procedure
takes about 20-30 minutes." He said the Husqvarna blower played a
vital role in keeping the rhino's core body temperature down, which was
particularly important during the procedure, especially in the hotter
seasons. "There is always a risk with anaesthesia,
and added to this is that white rhinos are particularly sensitive to
the opioids. So we want to perform the dehorning as efficiently and
quickly as possible."
said the recommended method to reduce poaching risk was to remove the
horn as low to the base as possible, in addition to removing
the side walls of the horn. This just leaves a small rounded bump of
horn, reducing the poaching risk to the animal."
do grow back with time, but the rate depends on nutrition.
"Animals receiving a lot of supplementary feeding have faster horn
growth, so dehorning every 15-24 months is a good guide. But saying
that, it's not good enough to merely dehorn and expect
there to be no poaching threat: you must ensure other checks are also
plight of the rhino has gained international attention, and around the
globe, various campaigns are creating awareness and raising funds to
conserve the animal.
Terblanche, former Springbok rugby player and CEO of the Rugby Legends,
has added his voice to the chorus: "We must do all we can to reduce
rhino poaching and I'm proud that we can help save the animal for
future generations. It's far better to have a dehorned rhino that is
alive and that we can still enjoy seeing in our reserves."
South Africa's marketing manager Jacqui Cochran said: "We are extremely
committed to this project, and thrilled that our diverse range of
equipment is being used for
a cause as worthwhile as saving the rhino."
For more information about Husqvarna, visit
van Deventer (Hilton veterinary surgeon), Dylan Lane (Husqvarna), Pavel
Hajman (Husqvarna), Stefan Terblanche (CEO of Rugby Legends &
Springbok) & Craig MacKenzie (Gwahumbe Game & Spa).