JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Zimbabwe veterinary surgeons have been forced to put down a rhino that was featured on a television series, days after it was shot by poachers, said the wildlife authority Monday.
The eight-year-old rhino named Ntombi was shot last Tuesday in Matopos, southern Zimbabwe and then lingered on, wounded, riddled with bullets, for close to a week, said Caroline Washaya-Moyo, spokeswoman for the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
"The rhino had AK bullet heads in three of her legs and a further bullet wound in her right shoulder. She had a front broken leg that she was unable to bear weight on," said Washaya-Moyo in a statement, referring to rounds from a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
Surgeons finally had to make the "very painful" decision to euthanize her during the weekend after realizing the wounds were too deep and the rhino could no longer make it to food and water, she said, adding that Ntombi left behind a calf that had just been weaned.
Ntombi appeared in 2011 on an Animal Planet television show, "Karina: Wild On Safari" that featured United Kingdom model Karina Holmes' adventures in Zimbabwean and Zambian wildlife reserves.
Trevor Lane of Bhejane Trust, an animal conservation group that works with the wildlife management authority, said they are offering a "substantial reward" for information leading to the arrest of poachers who shot Ntombi.
Zimbabwe, which teems with wildlife, is constantly battling poachers targeting mainly elephants and rhinos. Poachers killed over 150 rhinos in the past five years, according to the Lowveld Rhino Trust, a rhino conservation organization in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has a population of 800 rhinos, according to Washaya-Moyo. Zimbabwe's wildlife situation shot into the limelight in 2015 after the killing of a celebrity lion called Cecil by James Walter Palmer, an American dentist.