Cry Our Beloved Rhino
A travesty in the Making
The South African bloodline runs deep through my veins. Beating in my heart. Veins like those of a Sycamore fig root system. Strong and Complex.
I have a relationship with this country. I am born from it and I tell stories of it.
As of late a deadly strain of illness plagues this beautiful country. It is that of human greed and brings about the senseless killing of the African Rhinos.
It breaks my heart every time news spreads of yet another ruthless killing. It breaks my heart when justice just doesn't seem to be done. It breaks my heart when a grim realization dims upon me that my children will very well not have the privilege of seeing a Black Rhino in the wild.
Usually my writing is full of humor, of funny stories to tell and of the incredible privilege I've had while growing up on African soil. But this piece doesn't bring much laughter to mind.
I write in the hope of educating, I write the truth so that even if I can only sway one person’s mind to change about the severe crisis we face then I may have done my part.
We are all responsible to put this to an end. We all have a duty to mother earth to serve and protect and sadly I see little saving and little protecting. The few individuals who give their lives to the protection of wildlife is overshadowed by the thousands of corrupt governments, policing systems even park Rangers and state vets involved in this massacre.
I always had thought that poaching is sustained by poor people merely trying to make a living but I could not have been more wrong.
These animals carry a worth and the institutions keeping this craze alive is done so by very organized crime syndicates. Higher and more powerful than the drug cartels and right up there with human trafficking.
I am angered when I read of the demand of Rhino horn because it is worthless! Rhino horn is composed of mainly keratin a protein much the same of what your hair is made from. Medicinally and scientifically proven to have no medical or traditional healing value there should be no demand for it. Yet our animals are critically endangered because of this demand.
US$60,000 is the estimated per-kilogram worth of rhino horn on the black market, according to a report by US-based strategy and policy advisory firm Dalberg. That sizable sum makes it a commodity that's much more lucrative than gold and platinum – and more valuable on the black market than diamonds and cocaine. The price tag is even more shocking when you consider its rapid upsurge in recent years: in 2006, the value stood at around $760. The same Dalberg report puts the total value of illicit wildlife trafficking (excluding fisheries and timber) as between US$7.8 billion and US$10 billion per year.
Rhino horn is predominantly destined for the Asian market and is used in a variety of traditional medicines. In Vietnam the possession of Rhino horn is seen as a status symbol. Whilst none of these traditional uses carry any scientific backing the demand for Rhino horn seems endless.
Sadly it is estimated that within the next 20 years we will see the extinction of all Rhinos in the wild. A hard fact to digest indeed but considering the current poaching statics a very likely scenario.
Currently we are losing one Rhino every 8 hours, and although we saw a 10% decline between 2015 and 2016 the official stats for 2017 are more than likely not going to predict good news.
Estimations puts our White Rhino at approximately 17396 (2015) and our critically endangered Southern Black Rhino at 1822.
There are now three remaining recognized ecotypes/subspecies of Black Rhinoceros occupying different areas of Africa. A fourth recognised subspecies D. b. longipes once ranged through the savannah zones of central-west Africa but it is now considered to have gone extinct in its last known habitats in Northern Cameroon.
There are number of projects and efforts being done to counter this horrendous crime. I'd like to touch on a few who I feel have really made a difference;
- The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in conjunction with local wildlife NGO's has established the Black Rhino expansion project. Putting it in simple terms the main aim of this project is to increase the breeding ground for black Rhino. Bordering farms have come together to drop internal fencing to make this happen. The project currently runs in Kwa Zulu Natal and Limpopo and has seen the merge of over 200 000 hectares. The project was initiated in 2013 and has seen the establishment of over 10 new populations. The projects also helps anti-poaching task teams with equipment, paying for vet expenses as well as helping helicopters do search runs. For more information on how to help this project visit https://www.givengain.com/cause/1698/campaigns/8983/donate/#start
- The Rhinos without borders project focuses mainly on the translocation of Rhino to countries such as Botswana. The main aim of the project is to move 100 Rhinos to save havens where they can be conserved and protected. For more info on how to help with this project visit http://www.rhinoswithoutborders.com/about-the-project/
- The K9 anti-poaching dog unit - established in 2013 in the Magaliesberg, the training Academy focused on training dogs to effectively and successfully help ground crew track and catch Rhino poachers. The project has seen much success and has attracted animal lovers to sponsor dogs and or food for the fur anti-poaching crew. Visit
Other successful anti-poaching measures include dehorning of Rhinos, the possibility of establishing a court system dedicated to handle the abundance of cases and the possible legalization of the trade in Rhino horn.
Whilst corruption will never end, there are dedicated policing individuals and wildlife authorities working endlessly to combat poaching.
And whilst the outlook is grim there is always hope. History teaches us that bringing Rhino back from the brink of extinction is not impossible. Locally the magnificent Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park established in 1895 was solely responsible for re-establishing the whine Rhino population from only 100 individuals left. The park has since seen translocation of over 10000 Rhinos to other reserves and farms. So no matter how dark we must keep hope. We must keep educating and we must believe that somehow we WILL win the war.
I beg of you to do your bit by helping one of the projects listed above. Let's all do our bit for the savior of our precious Rhino!!
Safe and happy travels