Five years after they survived a brutal chainsaw attack by poachers, two white rhinos have been released back into the wild for the first time following groundbreaking treatment.

The Limpopo-based Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) released the cows, Lion’s Den and her daughter Dingle Dell, at an undisclosed location on Monday.

They were brought to the centre in September 2013 after a poaching attack on a neighbouring reserve. The attack had left the two severely maimed and barely alive.

HESC founder member and executive director Lente Roode said: “The two beauties that ran off into an undisclosed location ... were a far cry from the pitiful animals that came to HESC five years ago. “Their horns had been cut off with a chainsaw while they were grazing in the reserve. A bull died on the scene and the two cows were left with gaping holes and their sinus cavities exposed where their horns had previously defined their iconic appearance.” The cows — both named by the HESC — received extensive treatment from a team of wildlife veterinary surgeons. “I will never forget the sight of these poor animals when they arrived at HESC. No creature should have to endure what these two cows went through on that fateful day. “It is incomprehensible that humans can stoop so low for financial gain,” said Roode. The release of the fully rehabilitated rhinos is in line with the conservation ethos of the HESC, where the aim is to release animals back into the wild, whether born in captivit...

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