Subject: Veterinary procedures to curb rhino poaching

The dramatic escalation in the number of rhinos poached annually in South Africa is of great concern to the South African Veterinary Association. Drastic counter-measures implying veterinary procedures are sometimes advocated. The welfare of individual animals remains a top priority. Veterinarians have perfected rhino immobilisation techniques, but protocols for some other procedures are still being developed. The anatomy of domestic animals has been studied in great detail, but in most cases this does not apply to wildlife. Before a protocol for the ethical dehorning of rhinos can be approved, for example, the anatomy of a rhino’s head must be understood: nerve and blood supply, location and extent of horn germinal layers, size and position of the nasal sinuses, etc. This information is lacking; a study to furnish the required information is currently underway at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria.

Although time is of the essence, any veterinary procedure must be rational and evidence-based. Relying on procedures that are based solely on anecdotal evidence is risky. This highlights the urgent need for funding of vital research projects. Donations to the underlying funds via the umbrella Vet Rhino Fund, will be gratefully accepted.

Please contact the SAVA at or visit the website ( for more information.

South African Veterinary Association Vet Rhino Fund Legal Status

Registration No 1901/02020/20

Public Benefit Organisation 93000 1648

VAT nr 4280104920


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