Poachers have killed two rhinos during a vicious attack on an animal orphanage in South Africa.
Rhinos Impi and Gugu had their horns taken after a gang of poachers took staff hostage at the Fundimvelo Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday night.
Gugu was killed instantly but Impi survived, only to have to be put down the next morning due to his injuries.
Staff members are understood to have been assaulted during the attack.
South Africa saw a decline in the numbers of rhinos killed for their prized horns in the first half of 2016, down to 702 from 796 the previous year.
However, the reduction came after several years of increases.
"Is this another stage? That’s what we’ve been asking," Thula Thula’s Karen Trendler told journalist Bonné de Bod in a Facebook Live video. "There has been an increasing desensitisation, there has been an escalation in the violence in the poaching and the mutilation."
The rhinos had been due to have their horns removed next week to protect them from ivory traders, according to local media.
- More than 700 rhinos were killed in South Africa in the first half of last year