When I wrote a blog about World Rhino Day last year, I had truly hoped that the world would make a stand and bring an end to the horrific poaching that continues to wipe out great numbers of this magnificent species… but the truth is, it has gotten worse.
Over 680 Rhino’s have been poached in South Africa this year (more than 2 per day), and despite the continuous efforts of Rhino charities, animal welfare organisations, and wildlife veterinary surgeons such as Dr. William Fowlds, the Rhino is well on its way to extinction.
Rhino Poaching is fuelled by demand from China and Vietnam for specious medicinal products that ‘apparently’ cure everything from cancer to hangovers, yet there is no medical proof to support these claims; in fact, Rhino Horn is made of Keratin, and therefore no more beneficial than chewing our own fingernails, but the demand continues to grow.
Worse still, recent research carried out by WWF South Africa, found that residents of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City consider rhino horn as a “status symbol”, and that a large ‘intender’ group of people expressed their intent to use rhino horn in the future, despite the fact they know it is illegal.
Sky News highlighted the story of South African Rhino’s Themba and Thandi earlier this week, a story I wrote about when it happened some 18 months ago (see below), but how do we educate an entire nation that rhino horn is not medicine?
There are loads of things we can do to help and more information can be found on the World Rhino Day website, but ultimately, the battle of the Rhino needs to be won in Asia, and until then, Africa will continue to suffer this monumental loss.
Saving Rhinos One at a Time – The Story of Themba & Thandi
March 28th 2012
Few events have a real impact on your life, and for me those would include the horrific terror attack in New York on September 11th and the South East Asian Tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004. While I was not affected directly, both of these tragic events left a small but significant scar.
On 2nd March 2012 another event happened, something that not many will have heard of, or read about, but one that has affected me just as deeply, and that is the poaching of Rhinos that took place on Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa.
The poaching of Rhinos is a common event in South Africa, and indeed across the world. These magnificent creatures are slaughtered in a cruel and shameless way, all because some small-minded, uneducated people believe their horns offer medicinal benefits to humans – something that has been proven erroneous by medical professionals.
So like many others in South Africa, three Rhinos from the Kariega Game Reserve were darted, had their prized horns hacked from their faces, and they were left to bleed to death in what can only be described as a heartless and merciless event.
Tragically, one bull was fatally wounded and died during the course of the night, but miraculously the other two survived despite their horrific injuries, and this inspired the Kariega rangers to give them the Xhosa names of Thandiswa and Themba – meaning courage and hope.
Being cared for and treated by the inspirational Dr. William Fowlds and the Kariega team, Thandi and Themba continued to fight for their lives, but sadly, on Sunday 25th March, Themba lost his precious fight to overcome the horrific injuries he sustained during his attack, and died in a watering hole.
Thandi, the female, is still not out of the woods, but after reading Dr. Fowlds daily reports it seems we can be cautiously optimistic that she will survive. Update: Thandi has endured several medical procedures as Dr. Fowlds attempts to close the gaping hole left in her face, and 18 months on, she is on the road to recovery.
As I visited Kariega in December last year and have several photos of these magnificent creatures in my own photo album, I cannot help the overwhelming feeling of pain and hopelessness as I read each day of their plight to survive. I, like many, wish there was something we could do to free the Kariega Rhinos and the many others who are suffering this pain.
In the first three months of 2012, over 100 Rhinos have been poached in South Africa and if we do not do something soon, these gentle giants will become extinct due to the greed of man.
Thankfully, Dr Fowlds and the Kariega team have made their fight for Thandi and Themba a very public one, and while we are limited in what we can do to help, if we share their plight across the globe via social media, we may just help Thandi while respecting the memory of Themba.
If you are willing to help Thandi and other South African Rhino’s survive their daily fight against man, you can support one of the many Rhino charities, or more effectively perhaps, you can spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, and any other social network.
Together we can surely make a difference – a thousand voices are heard a whole lot louder than a single one.
See the whole story here, but beware, these videos are not easy to watch: