By Judith Sibanda
Victoria Falls, April 11, 2016 – POACHERS allegedly killed one of Matobos National Park’s iconic rhinos amid concerns by conservationists that the illegal killing of protected species is failing to come to an end.
Bhejane Trust, a leading conservationist group said the rhino, popularly known as ‘Ntombi’ was shot by suspected poachers last week and died on Saturday.
“Tragic news from the Matobos where a well known young 8 year-old rhino cow, Ntombi was shot and wounded.
“The shots were heard on Tuesday last week at the park but nothing was found after a search by rangers. Only days later, was the severely wounded Ntombi found,” Bhejane said.
The trust said Ntombi’s condition had deteriorated beyond her doctor’s ability.
“She had to be euthanised and the vet ruled there was no possibility of saving her – she had lived a week of indescribable agony,” the trust said.
The trust said Ntombi left a 13 months old calf which was her first born and they were still following up on what could have happened.
“We have suspicions as to who the poachers were, and will be offering a substantial reward for any arrest in this case,” said Bhejane.
Zimbabwe has witnessed an upsurge in the number of wild animals like rhinos and elephants killed by poachers at National Parks, with some of the illegal hunters using cyanide poison for marketing in Asian countries.
Last year the government said it was deploying soldiers at National Parks to fight poaching but the move is yet bear fruit.
An iconic lion named Cecil was killed in a similar way with a bow and arrow after being lured out of cage by Theo Bronkhorst (52) of Bernafay Lane, Riverside surburb in Bulawayo and Walter James Palmer, an American dentist.
The case is still pending at Hwange provincial court
The endangered animal was days later gunned down before being skinned and beheaded.
Palmer (55), has admitted to killing the lion on July 1, but said he believed it was a legal hunt.
The American hunter is alleged to have paid $55 000 to locals to assist him in the hunt.
Cecil, like Ntombi, was used for conservation purposes and was famous.
He had fitted GPS collar for a research project by scientists from Oxford University. He was one of the oldest and most famous lions in Zimbabwe.