I’m sure that most of the folks who read our blogs are animal and bird lovers, so I guess I’m preaching to the converted here when I say that our war against rhino poachers needs all the soldiers we can muster. We’ve recently spent time on a birding weekend in the Kruger National Park with some SANParks Voluntary Rangers (from the West Rand Region) and we heard about their fund-raising efforts for, amongst other things, the protection of rhinos in the national parks. I should imagine that every killing must make the authorities feel like they are taking three steps forward and two steps back.
Funnily enough, in spite of the vast numbers that are being poached at the moment, we were fortunate enough to come across a number of rhinos on our short visit to Kruger. These bulky, prehistoric-looking animals lumber around peacefully unaware of the price they have on their heads (literally) and what danger they’re in from unscrupulous poachers. The threat comes from poachers of all nationalities, but it would seem mainly from Mozambicans who have easy access to the Park.
I’m always devastated when I hear of South Africans being caught poaching, or masterminding poaching operations, as I feel they are destroying our heritage and should know better. The Asians who call for rhino horn are far removed from the area so are not impacted by what is going on here. That is no excuse however.
The Rhinose Foundation that collects money for the conservation of rhinos, has decided that an effective way to tackle the problem is to get the Asians to see for themselves what their predilection for rhino horn is doing in Africa. They use much of their funding to bring delegations from Asia to the Park to witness first-hand the death and destruction that is taking place here and to take back the message to their people that this must stop before it’s too late. Hopefully by educating famous people, like singers or TV personalities who have large fan bases, they can spread the word and make a change back home.
Members of the South African Parliament are also being brought in to see what is happening so that they can go back and promulgate harsher laws against poachers. One can only hope that this will be effective in the long term.
Last year 1216 rhinos were poached in South Africa. Three weeks into February 2015 and already 166 have been killed. Who knows if the beautiful rhinos featured in our photos here will still be alive in a month’s time. What a sad thought that is and what a tragedy for future generations if we don’t win this battle.