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Phila arrives safely at zoo Print E-mail
26 October 2010

Phila the young black rhino survived two attempts on her life by poachers. She is now recuperating at the Joburg Zoo, where visitors are invited to watch her progress.

PHILA, the black rhino that survived nine gunshot wounds by poachers, has arrived safely at the Johannesburg Zoo to begin her recuperation.


Phila checks out her new surroundings
Phila checks out her new surroundings


The five-year-old rhino arrived from Modimolle in Limpopo on Monday, 25 October where it has been shot on two separate occasions - both in the wild, and while being cared for in an enclosure that was not very secure.

“Phila will be here on a temporary basis; she’ll be at the zoo for as long as she needs to be housed here,” said Joburg Zoo’s brand and communications manager, Letta Madlala.
The rhino was greeted by the zoo’s staff, the media and the public upon arrival. It was, however, not easy to get the animal out of the transportation truck and into her new home.  Phila was ill at ease and became slightly aggressive; she slowly came out of the truck and then rammed it with her stub of a horn.  The noise of the collision had onlookers in a state of shock.

In the past few days the zoo has been busy preparing a camp to receive the rhino, where it will stay alone, as black rhinos are solitary animals and extremely territorial. A strict dietary programme has been prepared while the animal is recuperating, and she will undergo an ongoing medical routine to monitor her injuries.

After the second attempt on her life, Phila was moved to another secret location, but within weeks helicopters were seen on two occasions flying low over the location where she was being kept. When Phila was shot for the first time, another female rhino was shot and killed by poachers firing from above. Investigators concluded the rhinos were being shot at from a helicopter.

“We hope that this will raise awareness about the pain and suffering that black rhinos in South Africa are being subjected to,” said Madlala as she welcomed the public to visit Phila. The rhino will recuperate at the Joburg Zoo for an undetermined amount of time before being returned to her original herd.

Phila was born as part of a breeding programme to establish a viable herd of the critically endangered black rhino. Rhinos in South Africa have been under siege from poachers in recent years. It is estimated that in the last year alone, over 200 rhinos were killed by poachers for their horns. The horns, composed entirely of keratin, are believed to be used for ornamental dagger handles in Yemen and traditional Chinese medicine.

There are currently five species of rhinoceros; the white and black rhinos found in Africa; and the Javan, Sumatran and Indian rhinos. The Javan and Sumatran rhinos of South East Asia, along with the black rhino, are critically endangered. Poaching along with habitat destruction and fragmentation are the biggest threats to their continued existence.

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Last Updated on 02 November 2010