Rhinos dehorned at Askari Game Lodge

Askari Game Lodge
Askari Game Lodge

Last year Guvon Hotels & Spas ran a tongue-in-cheek fundraising campaign at its “Big 5” Askari Game Lodge, printing “Horny Forever” promotional aprons. Just over a year ago and minus four rhinos which fell prey to brutal rhino poaching, Guvon Hotels & Spas are packing the promotional items away. “Horny” is not “Forever” anymore.

This week, Askari Game Lodge sadly dehorned all the rhino on the reserve to preserve their lives and, hopefully, prevent further poaching. This extreme measure was taken after horn poisoning, collaring and extensive signage in several languages proved ineffective.

Graham Shipway, general manager of Askari, said: “We realise that dehorning is an intrusive procedure and there are risks involved.  It is heart-breaking to have to go to such extreme measures to protect our heritage. Horns grow back over time and we may have to go through this whole process again in 12 to 24 months from now.”

Head game ranger at Askari Game Lodge, Wimpie Pretorius, said dehorning the rhinos is not a foolproof method of keeping them safe, although it certainly is a step in the right direction. “Where visibility is low, for instance in bush or hill terrain, poachers may not be able to see if the rhino’s horn is intact and shoot regardless. Another real danger is the vengeance factor – as was the case in Hwange National Park where it was thought that poachers killed dehorned rhinos to avoid tracking them again.”

Askari Game Lodge & Spa is hosting a Rivonia Barnyard fundraiser for the Rhino fund on 23 September and it’s open to the public as well as corporates.

Interesting facts: How is dehorning carried out?
• Rhinos are usually darted from a helicopter, but occasionally from the ground in smaller reserves.
• A pen is used to mark the point of removal – usually 7cm from the base of the front horn and 5cm from the base of the back horn.
• While under anaesthesia, a chainsaw or hand-saw is used to cut the horn off horizontally.
• Eyes and ears are covered to prevent noise / disturbance / damage from the saw.
• The stump is trimmed to remove excess horn at the base, then smoothed and covered with Stockholm tar to prevent cracking and drying.