World renowned rhino orphanage shuts its doors after brutal attack in KZN

Staff were left traumatised in February after a woman was sexually assaulted and two rhinos were killed by an armed gang. The incident generated international outrage. File photo Image by: Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage
Three months after a brutal attack on its staff and animals‚ a KwaZulu-Natal rhino orphanage has been forced to shut its doors.

Staff were left traumatised in February after a woman was sexually assaulted and two rhinos were killed by an armed gang. The incident generated international outrage.

While investigations into the incident continue‚ the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation which administers the facility has decided to permanently close the orphanage‚ which ran for more than two years.

R400,000 raised after staff assaulted and rhino slaughtered at animal orphanage

“Ongoing security challenges experienced since the attack and the review of the independent security assessments have resulted in the … board making the heart-wrenching decision to permanently close the orphanage. Additional costs to provide 24/7 guards to adequately secure the facility in the long-term proved prohibitive and impacted on the sustainability of the facility. The decision was taken as a direct result of advice from security experts‚ anti-poaching professionals and senior police officers‚” the board said in a statement.

Money was raised after the incident to provide additional security‚ and the cash will now to transferred to the new facilities that will take on the moved animals.

Karen Trender‚ who ran the orphanage‚ was heart-broken about the decision. “There was enough information through the investigation for us to make probably one of the hardest decisions. We put so much into this facility. We had some amazing successes with the animals.”

Trender said she would continue assisting with anti-poaching efforts and working with rhinos.

“We continued to have ongoing security problems. Independent assessments indicated that if we continued to have rhino there it would pose a huge risk. The animals have been relocated to a temporary facility‚ which may become permanent.

“You can’t put animals and people at risk. There are outside factors as well‚ the rhino poaching patterns have changed‚ the poachers have moved because of increased security at the Kruger Park‚ which has put us at exceptionally high risk‚” said Trender.

Suthentira Govender

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