What was supposed to be a positive event to prevent poaching of endangered white rhinos in South Africa turned into a tragedy when one of the giant animals died during a demonstration for the press.
The enormous white rhino named Spencer was put under sedation so veterinarians in South Africa could implant a micro-chip tracking device into the giant's horn as well as place dye in the horn to prevent the animal from being poached. Rhino horns are valued for their supposed "aphrodisiac" and medicinal properties throughout many parts of the world.
As invited press and cameras looked on, the vets and minders taking part in the procedure were unable to revive the rhinoceros, stunning the doctors and onlookers as well. "It’s a tragedy, it’s a disaster," says Charles van Niekerk, the doctor who developed the anti-poaching technique.
Placing such a large animal under anesthesia is always a risk, doctors assert, but Spencer is the first rhino to die while being sedated for the procedure. Doctors will continue to use the procedure to tag and track the animals, as the poaching situation has placed the creatures on the very brink of extinction. Conservationists believe over 440 white rhinos were killed last year alone.