Baixinha, the highly endangered East African rhino saved from a “canned” hunt due to take place on a farm in North West province in 2001, died last week of multiple organ failure.
Baixinha (below) had been living at the SanWild wildlife sanctuary in Limpopo since July 2002. A Pretoria High Court order saving her from a hunterâ€™s gun made legal history for conservation when the judge ordered that junior conservation officials cannot deny or issue permits without the authority of their provincial ministers.
The Mail & Guardian disclosed in June 2001 that a European hunter was planning to pay about $60 000 to shoot Baixinha, one of less than 500 East African rhinos left in the world. The ensuing international furore led to her being saved by SanWild.
Baixinhaâ€™s pathetic, lonely life epitomised the fate of many surplus zoo and circus animals. North West wildlife dealer John Brooker imported her from a zoo in Brazil and used her for movie shoots before offering her to a hunter when she was past her prime.
She was so tame that her intended hunter could have sat on her head to shoot her. In her 27 years she never had a mate and only in the past 15 months was she given a chance to live in the wild.