Harare - An elderly female white rhino has been shot dead in a private game reserve near Harare, the park confirmed on Monday.
Wildlife lovers have been posting messages of grief and anger following news that well-known rhino Muzorewa, 37, was killed on Saturday night at Thetford Private Game Reserve in the Mazowe area of Zimbabwe.
The reserve said on its Facebook page that she had been killed with a "single shot to her heart/lung area".
Calling the rhino "our dear old girl", the reserve said: "Can man's greed ever cease? In Rhino Heaven now with all the others."
The Rhino Elephant Zimbabwe group said the killers - described as an 'organised gang' - did not get her horn.
Rhino poaching worsened last year in Zimbabwe, where only around 800 black and white rhinos are left. Some rhino deaths go unreported.
The last reported death of a rhino was in April in the Matopos National Park of southern Zimbabwe, when Ntombe, the star of Animal Planet series Karina Wild on Safari had to be euthanised after being horribly wounded by poachers.
She was only eight years old.
Muzorewa, who was often accompanied by a leopard in Thetford, was reportedly originally from the Matopos herself.
White rhinos can live for up to 50 years.
The Thetford reserve is known to have tight security. There are unconfirmed claims that a power cable was cut in the vicinity on Saturday night, plunging the area into darkness, which may have been advantageous for the rhino's killers. There is no official confirmation of this.
"Such a tragic loss. Beyond words," posted Lindsay Schillaci.
Posted Angela Campbell: "I am horrified, the security when we went there was excellent. I hope [the killers] rot in hell."
Increased rhino poaching is driven by the demand for rhino horn in Asian countries.
Dehorning rhinos is sometimes used as a deterrent strategy though experts are divided over how successful this is in the long term.