Staff are said to be "devastated" after the incident, where it appeared she had been shot at point blank range in her sleep before being brutally dehorned. A statement from the park on Facebook condemned the act and thanked nearby organisations for their help in investigating the crime:
We are so sad and in shock, and will do everything possible to find the culprits responsible for this heinous crime. We are grateful to the Stock Theft Unit, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the SAPS for responding to the call so quickly. We hope that arrests will be made soon so that the poachers can be brought to justice. RIP Maxine
It also mentioned that she had been hand raised, and so was probably more trusting of humans than those brought up in the wild.
After her mom died during childbirth, Maxine became one of the many orphaned rhinos scattered across the continent and was raised at Natal Lion Park from the age of two.The owner of the park, Brian Boswell, has previously been criticized for using animals in his circus, allegedly having six tigers shot after they escaped one of his attractions in 2015 and has been accused of negligence in these cases.
This is the latest incident in a wave of tragic killings across several African countries this year, which conservationists fear will only rise after South Africa decided to make domestic trade in rhino horn legal again.Three months before Maxine's death, staff at Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage were attacked while poachers shot and dehorned two calves and, in March, Vince the white rhino was killed in a Paris zoo for his horns.
Source: Aaron Tam/Getty Images
Rhino horns are said to have medicinal properties that can cure a number of sicknesses and are considered more valuable than gold, making the animals a target for poachers. Although their horns grow back, poachers usually kill the beautiful creatures before stealing them.Conservationists and animal lovers fear that the ban being lifted will fuel illegal international trade, as well as put existing rhino populations at risk. According to statistics from Stop Rhino Poaching(link contains graphic images), 1054 were killed in 2016 alone, with the numbers currently at 483 for 2017.
While white rhinos like Maxine are no longer considered endangered, several other subspecies are critically endangered and at risk of extinction if poaching continues.You can learn more about what you can do to help protect these majestic creatures by visiting Save The Rhino, and donate to the Rhino Orphanage by visitingtheir website here.
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