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Poachers be warned!

November 6, 2013 Responsible Tourism No Comments Email Email

Thula Thula has just become the first privately owned game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa to infuse its rhino horns with an indelible dye and ectoparasiticides to protect its two orphans, Thabo and Nthombi, from poachers!

THULA THULA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE in KwaZulu Natal is the very first privately owned game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal to take the unprecedented step of infusing itsrhino horns.

To face the harsh reality of the rhino poaching situation in South Africa, the rhino horn infusion added to extreme security measures may be the best solution to protect our rhinos & the future orphans that the Thula Thula Rhino Sanctuary will rescue.

Françoise Malby-Anthony, Managing Director & co-owner of Thula Thula, widow of the late Lawrence Anthony, world-renowned conservationist, co-author of three best-sellers & founder of The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization, , in consultation with David Bozas, our wildlife consultant & Dr. Mike Toft, our veterinarian, have made the decision to take this drastic step. On the 29thth October, Thabo & Nthombi were successfully darted, anaesthetised & their horns infused – the start of our rhino horn infusion programme.

Thula Thula Rhinos, Thabo & Nthombi are two orphans, relocated to Thula Thula from Moholoholo Rehab Centre when they were only a few months old. They were released into the game reserve under high surveillance. Armed guards accompany them 24/7 to protect them from poachers. With a gunfight having taken place in early 2012 when Thabo was shot in the front leg – as well as the loss of Heidi, our female white rhino, killed by poachers in 2009, the need for increasing protective measures is a harsh reality.

Though still controversial, rhino horn infusion is a sustainable, cost effective proactive solution to the ongoing rhino poaching scourge. A special compound of depot ectoparasiticides (though completely safe for rhino & other wildlife), is infused through a hole drilled into the rhino horn, (using a patented high-pressure device designed by a South African wildlife vet) & is then absorbed by the entire horn, remaining effective for up to 7 years, the time taken for the entire horn to grow out. Ectoparasiticide makes the horn unsuitable for human consumption – as it causes serious illness, leading to diarrhoea, nausea & in extreme cases convulsions & nerve disorder. An indelible dye that saturates the horn is also inserted & cannot be removed; if the horn is cut through (should the animal be poached) it has a blue colour to it. Apart from warning international crime syndicates & those using rhino-based traditional health remedies that the horns could cause serious illness, the dye can also be picked up on airport X-ray scanning machines – even if the horn is ground to powder. DNA sampling (results of which will go into a nationwide data base) & microchip tracking technology is also undertaken. Signs warning poachers of our treated rhino horn have been placed around the entire boundary of the reserve (kindly donated byThe Sign Factory, Empangeni ).

Thula thula would like to thank all its generous donors who have donated funds, donated their artwork to sell, bought paintings, tee-shirts or raffle tickets. It is thanks to all of you that we have been able to take this next very important step in our rhino conservation programme.

For further information on visiting Thula Thula, donating to our Thula Thula Rhino Fund or Sanctuary, or information on how to win a two night stay, email or visit our website at or on Facebook

Tembe Elephant Park, also in KwaZulu-Natal but a national park managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (a state conservation agency), also had its rhino horns treated in September, along with neighbouring reserve Ndumo in the ongoing battle that claimed 620 rhinos in the first 9 months of 2013.  Although controversial, it is hoped that this will help make the illicit product (used for home remedies in the Far East) to lose its commercial value.  Tembe is also a member of the #ZuluRoute,

Ethos Marketing is the UK Sales, Marketing and PR office for luxury hotels and game lodges in Southern and East Africa.

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