Illegal poacher are hacking the horns off a herd of rhinos – with CHAINSAWS.
Two of the protected animals died after hunters launched a daring #340,000 ivory raid past armed security guards inside a South African game reserve.
The gang incapacitated both rhinos with powerful tranquiliser darts before using sharp machetes and chainsaws to brutally saw the horns off the hefty beasts.
They fled while attacking a third rhino after being confronted by gun-toting security staff at the Aquila Private Game Reserve, near Cape Town.
One of rhinos killed in the vicious attack was the first to be reintroduced to the South African Cape for more than 250 years.
Stunned park owner Searl Dearman said: ”Nothing comes close to the pain and disgust I’ve experienced in the last few days.
”This is a devastating loss.
”This morning we were shocked to find the first rhino reintroduced into the Cape, since the species was hunted out 250 years ago, lying lifeless in the veld.”
Two groups of poachers attacked the 7,500 hectare reserve – home to six rhinos – in the early morning of August 20 after gaining access via neighbouring farms.
They trekked through several kilometres of vegetation before cornering the rhinos and hacking off their horns.
Distraught gamekeepers found their main rhino, Abso, covered in blood and fighting for his life.
The rhino – the first to be introduced to the Cape in 250 years since they were hunted out – later died.
The second dead rhino was spotted after a short helicopter search.
He had most of his face hacked off with machetes, then was dehorned using the weapons and chainsaws.
A third rhino, an offspring of Absa, was found barely alive with only its front horn missing.
Park staff believe the hunters were disturbed by the armed security, equipped with semi-automatic weapons and night vision goggles, during the final attack.
The stricken rhino was eventually saved after game-keepers scrambled access to emergency anti-dotes to the powerful tranquiliser darts it had been shot with.
A team of 24 security guards have now been employed by the park to stand watch over the four remaining rhinos.
Mr Derman has now vowed to plunder the park’s resources into the further protection of rhinos from hunters and has offered a reward for the capture of his reserve’s killers.
He said: ”This experience has been the catalyst and I am going to fight this on behalf of private game reserves that are not supported by the South African Government and that lack the finances and resources needed to ensure the protection of our rhinos.
”Helpless and desperate feelings are motivating me to fight back. The deaths of our two rhinos will not be in vain.”
Rhino poachers are well equipped, heavily armed with automatic weapons, night and thermal vision equipment and well trained.
They normally attack at night with thermal vision.