How does a human stoop so low as to slaughter an animal simply to feed their own greed? It appears that poachers have been doing exactly this. Here in South Africa over 150 rhino’s have been massacred since the beginning of this year alone. We recently spent some time in the bush, together with a good friend who is the head ranger at one of the largest game reserves in the country. As such, he is updated via SMS of national rhino attack statistics. Well, it was appalling to hear the bleep of these messages, at least once a day, as we rumbled in and out of cell-phone reception. Some of the calves killed were mere months old, with stubs for horns.
A cartel of poachers dominated our local news a few weeks ago. They were on the rampage near Johannesburg, raiding the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve by helicopter at night. They killed a number of rhino’s, hacked off their horns with chainsaws, and left their young distraught and defenceless, if not dead too. Game rangers took many hours to find the eight-month-old calf of the most recent victim. He was moved to a camp with other orphaned rhino’s, in part to alleviate his trauma and loneliness, which rhino’s have been rumoured to die from. Here’s a link to a News24.com article about this incident: ‘Open season’ for poachers.
A couple of months ago a pregnant rhino and her calf were massacred in the same reserve, for the same reason: to supply the illegal market for rhino horn. A single one is said to fetch around $1,000,000 in China, where it has long been prized in traditional medicine. There are no adult rhino’s remaining in this park now, but for the record, here is a photo of a youngster that my husband took some time ago:
. . . and a close-up of the object of such insanity:
The Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve is far from the only place to be targeted. Four men were arrested recently, after being caught with two freshly-axed rhino horns in the Kruger National Park. These attacks have prompted an appeal from the Private Rhino Owners Association to the public to take a stand against poaching. A spokesman of theirs, Pelham Jones, urged people to “realise that rhino’s form part of our heritage”, adding that “we brought these animals back from extinction.”
He also highlighted the importance of preserving the rhino population for the sake of tourism, saying that “Tourists come to South Africa to look at the big five, not the big four.” Jones further referred to the website www.stoprhinopoaching.com as a crucial hub for relevant information, so take a look there if you’d like to find out more, or have anything to contribute. In addition, here’s a link to the Kruger Park’s blog post, with ideas on how you can help: Get involved in the fight against rhino poaching!
Finally, for an enlightening article quoting facts and figures and addressing the myths surrounding rhino horn, visit National Geographic’s blog here: Rhino horn: All myth, no medicine. Contrary to popular opinion, the author states that according to a particular source, a lagging libido is just about the only condition that rhino horn is not prescribed for. The post also includes a photo of a Greater one-horned rhino in Nepal, which is interesting to see, being a bit different to our own White and Black rhino’s.
It’s clear that this problem is not limited to Africa. Please may it be mitigated before the rhinoceros is relegated to memory!