Why Big Bertha the Rhino was Killed

Well-meaning people often fall victim to sensationalistic animal rights syndicates. They are unwittingly duped into funding or supporting racketeering campaigns to ban wildlife trade, without understanding the severity of their actions and the consequential role they play in accelerating the extinction of iconic African species.

If wildlife has no value to people in rural communities, it will be eradicated and substituted with other land use options (livestock or crops) that can allow for the subsistence living of rural people.

The image of this document is of a rhino cow called “Big Bertha” that was killed by poachers in the Waterberg region of South Africa on a 1,000ha private game ranch on the 7th of April 2012. Her face was hacked and massacred with
a machete and her horns were violently removed by poacher to be sold on the illegal black market.

The irony of this case is that the very custodian employed to look after Big Bertha was the same person that called and welcomed the poachers onto the property to commit this heinous act. What is even more disheartening is that the landowners had given all their African staff a 25% share in every single animal on the property including all the rhino. So why would a person, a custodian who owns, loves and who’s daily duty it is to protect these majestic creatures allow poachers to slaughter an animal that belongs to him?

After a two-month investigation and confession when asked why he did it. He answered by saying, that he was lied to and despite his portion in the 25% share he would never benefit from the rhino.

The sad reality is that under the current legislation and environmental regulations the rhino didn’t really belong to him and he and his family were never really going to see any true financial benefit from risking his life on a daily basis to protect these animals.

He thus allowed poachers onto the property to kill a rhino belonging to him for a fee of R10 000, a fee which he never received.

The same ranch has a rhino horn stockpile worth anything from R50 000 000 – R100 000 000, meaning the African staff have a commodity on paper worth R10 000 000 – R20 000 000 but yet he was willing to kill the same living rhinos producing the horn for a potential payday of R10 000 (0.1%) because to them rhino have become valueless.

Rhino protection, security, and feed costs to protect and nurture these rhinos cost this specific ranch anything from R50 000 – R65 000 per month. A cost that has become a burden and impossible to continually subsidise.

Thus, the sad reality is a once passionate conservation area that was dedicated to conserving these majestic animals is one of the many that have become disheartened and are considering converting to cattle ranching or crop farming. An event that will certainly mean the extinction of rhino from yet another small part of South Africa.


Introduction of the 2020 submission to the high level panel by:-


Conservation Force – Mr Marco Pani

Barry and Richard York.

Pieter Potgieter and Tony de Bruin and Eardley Rudman.

The leopard research team under leadership of Mariska Nel and Anneke van der Merwe.

2 thoughts on “Why Big Bertha the Rhino was Killed

  • Culling is not an option,elephants form very tight families,take the cow,mother of the baby away,leaves permanent physiological damage,move them to countries with greener vegetationI know that’s not easy,even areas in RSA Kwazulunatal,Lowveld,Addo,unfortunately Botswana is n dry country,in my opinion,animals like elephant is not the problem,people is the problem,the whole Africa is empoveriched,too many people,that only take and not put back anything positive,we moved into the wild animals land,not the other way around,but the animals must pay the price,people caused this,maybe some of them should stop breeding,no culling!

    • We all heard this argument before
      Barbara Liebenberg if you are so serious about not culling excessive elephants but moving more than 100 000 elephants from Botswana then please do so immediately. After that, you will have to move the excessive elephants from Hwange and the Kruger National Park and if you can’t find the space for them then you have to inform us how you propose to get rid of the humans that’s invading the space of the elephants. Oh and please include in your plan that humans must be removed without any physiological and physiological damage. Thank you for your well thought through contribution and recommendations. With such brilliance we can run the world.


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