A rhino that was moved from the Bloemfontein Zoo to the Maria Moroka Nature Reserve near Thaba Nchu in the Free State has died.
The rhino apparently died due to the cold and malnutrition.
Kgotso Tau, spokesperson for the Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea), did not respond to a request for comment.
The Bloemfontein Zoo was closed by the department in April this year after the Manguang metro was no longer financially able to take care of the animals.
All the animals, including the rhino that has since died, have been moved to new homes.
The rhino’s carcass was found by game wardens on Friday.
Three rhinos have been moved to the Maria Moroka Nature Reserve. The reserve is about 80 km east of Bloemfontein. It is not operated by Sanparks.
Reinet Meyer, senior inspector of the Bloemfontein Animal Protection Association (SPCA) who helped move the animals there, said on inquiry that she did not know what caused the rhino’s death.
“I do not know anything about the matter, but someone else has also asked me about it,” she says.
“Unfortunately, I can not say who it was.”
Sources with knowledge of the case said the rhinos needed concentrates, good grazing and salt licks and that the management at Maria Moroka apparently did not provide them.
The reserve apparently also approved the purchase of lucerne for the rhinos and other animals, but the feed was never collected.
Additional nutrition is needed in the winter months because natural grazing is not adequate.
It was also extremely cold in the Free State last week.
No new rhino calves have been born in the reserve this year.
Police and the Green Scorpions were also called on Friday because the reserve initially feared the rhino had been poached for its horn.
According to the sources, the rhinos that were moved to the reserve are simply not resistant to the bitter cold because they were used to sleeping in their camps in the zoo.
The rhino was probably also malnourished because additional nutrition as needed during the winter months was allegedly not provided.
Meanwhile, Qondile Khedama, general manager of communications of the Mangaung metro, says the metro is not aware of what happened at the reserve.
“When the animals were removed from the metro’s care, the impression was created that specialists would take good care of them,” says Khedama.