strange behaviors

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  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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Saving Butchered Rhinos

Posted by Richard Conniff on July 3, 2013

Black rhino in South Africa (Photo: Richard Conniff)

Black rhino in South Africa (Photo: Richard Conniff)

In the middle of a war on rhinos, it’s easy to get desensitized by endless photographs of horribly butchered corpses. South Africa alone has already lost 428 animals so far this year, their horns hacked off with chainsaws and machetes to supply the traditional Chinese medicine trade. But what happens when an animal survives the butchery?

Will Fowlds, a 42-year-old veterinarian, was living at Amakhala Game Reserve outside Port Elizabeth, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, when he got the call in February 2011. Poachers had attacked a rhino on a neighboring reserve. After a moment, the owner of the reserve added, “William, he’s still alive.”

When Fowlds arrived at the scene, the owner simply pointed him into the bush. He’d already seen too much. Fowlds found the rhino propped up on three legs, with his mouth pushed into the ground as a kind of crutch. His left front leg was crippled, from having been caught under his own massive weight after the poachers’ tranquilizer knocked him out. His face was hacked open, with loose flesh hanging off either side. Blood bubbled in the exposed nasal passages.

The rhino saw Fowlds and stumbled toward him …  to read the rest of this story click here.


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