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Make Every Day A Rhino Day

Make Every Day A Rhino Day

September 22nd is Rhino Day – a day to highlight the threat this magnificent species is facing from poachers prepared to hunt down grown animals, hack off their horns and sell them to a market, based mostly in East Asia, which peddles powdered rhino horn as a “traditional medicine” and as an aphrodisiac at astronomical prices.

I’ve written about the scourge of rhino poaching in South Africa, the country that is home to the vast majority of the world’s remaining wild rhino population, before. Since January, poachers have butchered more than 280 rhinos in the country and the battle to defend both black and white rhinos in national parks and private game reserves continues.

In August, several rhinos, including a pregnant animal, were poached and dehorned on game farms in Limpopo Province. In the same month, one man was shot dead and six others arrested when police foiled two attempts at rhino poaching in the same part of the country. In September a dead rhino and one darted one were discovered in a municipal game reserve, again in Limpopo.

But it’s not all just doom and gloom:

• The South African government is spending millions on anti-poaching measures.

• At the end of August, Edna Molewa, South Africa’s Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, announced that her government is considering a moratorium on all legal rhino hunting. Every year, more than 100 rhino hunting permits are officially sold to trophy hunters (about 143 in 2011 and 129 in 2010), but, says Molewa, “unscrupulous individuals” are abusing the system. “Illegal hunting and the abuse of the permit system may be the main threats that could impact on the survival of rhino in the wild in the near future,” she explained. Somewhat predictably, the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa disagreed, expressing the opinion that a moratorium could, in fact, lead to an increase in poaching.

• Molewa also suggested that the government is considering the possibility of de-horning living rhinos to make them unattractive to poachers. She emphasized that this would only become an option after consultation with veterinarians and other experts about possible detrimental effects or behavioral changes in the animals as a result of de-horning.

• This month, a man suspected of leading a major rhino horn trafficking syndicate appeared before a Johannesburg magistrate’s court and was refused bail.

• In recent months, there has been a definite increase in awareness among the general South African public with regards to the rhino poaching epidemic and the local media has been reporting on the issue more frequently.

In addition, some South African companies have started getting in on the rhino conservation act. The advertising agency Ogilvy Cape Town, for example, is working with the Wilderness Foundation on its Save The Rhino campaign.

The local retail company Woolworths is raising funds for rhino conservation by selling reusable “rhino” shopping bags, produced by an enterprise development project called Isikhwama. So far Woolworths customers have contributed over R700 000 ($100,000) to the cause by purchasing these bags.

This touching short film produced for Woolworths by Green Renaissance describes the project and captures the moment when the manager of Isikhwama came face-to-face with a rhino in the wild for the first.

Let’s hope that the tide is turning and the brutal slaughter of the world’s remaining rhino population can be stopped before it’s too late. On Rhino Day, and on every other day of the year, why don’t you make it your mission to inform others around you about the threat that is facing these beautiful animals?

Andreas is a book shop manager and freelance writer in Cape Town, South Africa. Follow him on Twitter: @Andreas_Spath

Photo from: Stock.Xchng

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11:47AM PDT on Oct 3, 2011

i hope they will start to poison the horn soon. i dont care if these people using it die using it.

7:37AM PDT on Oct 3, 2011

The complete & utter exploitation & abuse of both Elephants & Rhino's by the Chinese, for such ridicuous & frivolous reasons is an absolute disgrace. To disrespect, abuse & murder these innocent, magnificent creatures is shameful to say the least! I'm sick & tired of their ridiculous ideas of culture, there is nothing cultured in this barbaric treatment of God's creatures!!!

12:48AM PDT on Sep 27, 2011

Boycot china until they clean up their act!

12:48AM PDT on Sep 27, 2011

Boycot china until they clean up their act!

6:34PM PDT on Sep 26, 2011

Save the rhinos! Smack some sense into a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner!

3:32PM PDT on Sep 25, 2011

This is SO sad............ petition signed!

8:57AM PDT on Sep 25, 2011

Thank you for sharing this article and video. My heart is torn in two for all the animals who are suffering so unjustly!! We all need to stand up against the cruelty---------NO ONE has the right to cause harm to animals!!!!!!! Thank you SO MUCH to Woolworths and all they are doing to help!~~~

1:52PM PDT on Sep 24, 2011

when will these buyers get it? it's all fallacy -- it's all justification so they can own these animal parts -- it's time to grow up and see the brutality that these animals endure -- it's unconscionable, it's immoral and valueless -- it's cruel -- it's downright shameful. We MUST protect these animals.

5:53PM PDT on Sep 23, 2011

Thanks for the update.

2:20AM PDT on Sep 23, 2011

Thank you for sharing.

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