Dying mother rhino leads her calf to farm lodge and safety after being attacked by poachers on killing spree in South AfricaPoachers kill eight rhino in four day killing spree in North West provinceIt left maggot-covered carcasses dotted across Finfoot Game ReserveFive men charged in connection with the massacre and due in courtBut game reserve staff say 'It's not “if”, it's “when”' poachers return
00:05 GMT, 27 November 2012
A dying rhino summoned the strength to save her calf as poachers went on a killing spree on a game reserve in South Africa, keepers said today.
The slaughter lasted between three and four days and left maggot-covered carcasses dotted across the landscape at the Finfoot Game Reserve near Sun City in North West province.
Gamekeepers said after being shot at, the pride of the reserve named Longhorn realised she would die. But in a final act of bravery she led her 18-month-old calf to the reserve farm's lodge, where she would be safe.
Slaughter: Miles Lappeman, with the carcass of Longhorn, a 24-year-old Rhino Cow, at the Finfoot Lake Reserve
Longhorn, who was 24-years-old, was then butchered for her 3ft-long horn. Rhino horn is highly sought after and is sold for around $60000 per kilo (about R532000/kg).
Another calf found by gamekeepers did not escape the slaughter – it was found lying next to its mother, butchered for its tiny horn that measured just an inch, Times Live reported.
Miles Lappeman heard from his son, Mark, that rhino poachers had hit the farm, the first question he asked was: 'What about Longhorn'
Longhorn was the first animal Mr Lappeman bought from the Natal Parks Board, and the reason he spent 25 years caring for his breeding herd of White Rhino on his farm.
He let out a huge sigh of relief when he learned that Longhorn was not among the seven rhino found killed.
But last Monday, Longhorn's body was discovered 300m from the farm's lodge. She had suffered a mortal wound to her stomach.
Rhino's on the Finfoot Lake Reserve on November 24 in North West, South Africa
Five men have been arrested in connection with the massacre and are due to appear at Brits Magistrates' Court next week
Since the slaying, seven men have been working around the clock to protect the remainder of the herd
Her calf has been taken to a place of safety.
Since the slaying, a group of seven men has been working around the clock to protect the remainder of the herd, with the help of Mark Prangley, an anti-poaching operator.
Mr Lappeman says it is inevitable that the poachers will return.
'Its not “if”, it's “when”,' he told Times Live.
Pride of the reserve: Miles and Mark Lappeman with the carcass of Longhorn
The carcasses of a rhino and her calf lay on the reserve surrounded by dried blood
Killing spree: A rhino calf butchered for her horn at the Finfoot Lake Reserve
'We are fighting a bush war against trained professionals, with people who are not trained for it,' he says.
Mr Lappeman's son Mark grew up with the animals .
'To see animals dead on the farm is like walking into your home and seeing a relative lying dead. It's soul-destroying.'
Pelham Jones, chairman of the SA Rhino Owners' Association, said: 'We are losing this war and people who think there is a quick fix are living in denial.'
Mr Prangley, however, proposes a practical solution: 'Kill the poachers.'
Five men have been arrested in connection with the massacre and are due to appear at Brits Magistrates' Court next week charged with illegal possession of a firearm and poaching.