I don’t know about you, but I feel despondent every time I read about the desperate plight of the aggressively poached rhinos in South Africa. I feel dismayed, frightened and utterly appalled. I also feel enraged because there doesn’t seem to be anything I can actually DO about it, other than give money to one organisation or another.
And I get countless desperate rhino emails, smses and FB pleas to share this, like this or send this. But does it help? And how is it helping? What can I actually do to change the situation? Somehow sharing a gut wrenching picture of butchered rhinos with all of my friends feels like a distasteful parody of hand-wringing, and may well leave my ‘friends’ feeling ineffective.
It has reached the stage when I delete anything about rhinos rather than face the guilt when I fail to respond to the pleas for yet more money (can donor money balance the finance that drives the slaughter, and which organisation would it best serve?).
But I stumbled on a couple of rhino websites recently that helpfully list ways in which we can individually make a difference. This is empowering. I feel moved to act, and so I share them with you.
Saving Our Rhinos – 9 Ways You Can Help
First a little background:
- 95% of the world’s rhinos have been lost in the last 40 years
- Between 2000 – 2007 roughly 15 rhinos were poached in South Africa
- In 2012, 90 rhinos were killed in the first two months
- 200 were killed in the first 4 months of the same year
- Most of them are white rhinos, but amongst them are black rhino
- About 80% of all Africa’s rhinos live in South Africa
- There are only an estimated 4 000 black rhinos left on the continent
- Poaching is their biggest threat
- Poachers are part of sophisticated criminal syndicates
- The root cause: demand for rhino horn in traditional Asian medicine
- Asia now has money and many who formerly couldn’t, can now afford it
- A rhino horn can fetch as much as $1 million USD
- The SA government has sent in army troops to protect rhinos
- Some organisations advocate ‘education’ as fundamental to saving the rhino
- Others continue protecting key rhino populations (conservation has rescued the rhino from the brink of extinction)
- Some advocate injecting rhino horns with a bright colour dye rendering it useless as it will show up in airport security scanners (some even talk about adding poison – not damaging to rhinos or ox-peckers – to the mix)
- Some game farm owners are ‘de-horning’ their rhinos to save their lives
- Others advocate we should sell rhino horn from farmed rhinos (known as the horn harvesting scheme) through a legal and regulated market (highly contentious but it removes the incentive to poachers to kill rhinos)
- Recent headline news indicates that the SA government intends sounding out the attitude of other parties on trading rhino horn at the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna in Thailand – March 2013
What you can do:
- Do a little research and decide which of the rhino campaigns rings true for you and support it with a monthly debit order (a quick google search on rhino poaching will bring up the major players; be careful as not all are legitimate)
- iI you don’t have the cash, hold a fundraising party to raise funds and do a once-off donation to a campaign of your choice
- End the myth – circulate information about how ‘the horn is not medicine’ via email, FB, Twitter and other social media
- Shop online – a number of the rhino charities sell products, the proceeds of which go to support their campaigns – buy a t-shirt, a hat, key rings, armbands etc. (you’ll find these in some ‘real’ stores too)
- Lobby the president about your rhino concerns, write him letters and send them to: Tuynhuys, Private Bay X1000, Cape Town, 8000 or Union Buildings, Private Bag X1000, Pretoria, 0001
- Use your loyalty shopping cards – cards like Pick n Pay’s Smart Shopper card and the MyPlanet card (WW) allows you to donate to rhino charities
- Buy a car – some VW dealers donate funds to SANParks anti-rhino poaching projects
- Adopt a rhino – some organisations like www.helpingrhinos.org allow you to adopt a rhino
- Stay aware – the more you voice the issues, the more action will result to protect, save and prevent the rhinos plight
If you want to visit one of our magnificent reserves to see the Rhino in it’s natural environment see South Africa Game Reserves.