We knelt behind our bush guide in a straight line. He told us not to make any sudden movements. Using his ears to sense our presence, Clyde moved a little closer, huffing and shuffling his feet. We could feel his warm breath on our skin. Bonnie, Clyde’s partner came in a little closer to help defend her loved one. I couldn’t move I just stared in silence into this beautiful animals eye admiring the beauty of the moment. Standing two feet in front of us was a pair of the most endangered species in the world… The White Rhino.
In honor of Earth Day I wanted to take a minute to talk about conservation of the Black and White Rhino. The Black and White Rhino are two of the most endangered species in the world. The Black Rhino has been poached to the point where there are only 5000 left in the entire world. In 2011, almost 500 rhinos were poached, if the poaching continues at that rate rhinos will be gone by 2020… That’s 6 years away!!!
The Asian Market has fueled poaching these beautiful creatures. Although there is no scientific proof of its medical value…they grind the horns down into a fine powder to use as a treatment for a variety of illnesses such as nosebleeds, strokes, convulsions, and fevers. In Vietnam they are convinced that the horn helps cure Cancer and Hangovers…These countries will pay upwards to $300,000 for a rhino horn.
It was the biggest party of the year at a South African Reserve. Music was blasting and delicious foods and wines were being served.
For months a group of men had visited the reserve on multiple occasions scouting it out. They wanted to know the best ways in, the best ways out… When would the owners be the most distracted so they could make their move. Everything was meticulously planned. One of the poachers had snuck into the reserve and hid in the bush, one was planted in the party watching the owners to make sure they didn’t leave the party, and the others were on standby with a helicopter. When they received notice the poachers flew into the reserve on the helicopter. One of the men jumped from the plane and landed on the sleeping Rhinos back. He quickly dosed the rhino with a tranquilizer. As the animal became calm the man took out a chainsaw and hacked off the Rhinos Horn. They did this to the other rhino on property too. Horns in hand they took off in the helicopter with the owners none the wiser. Without the antidote to the tranquilizer being administered to the Rhinos in the proper time both of the rhinos died. The owners found the two-butchered Rhinos the next morning. Blood surrounding where the horns once were.
Poaching acts like this happen all over Africa and most the Rhinos die. In rare cases like that of Bonnie and Clyde the owners of the reserve catch the poachers in time and can save the Rhino with the tranquilizers antidote. Bonnie & Clyde who are the only two White Rhino at the Scotia Reserve in South Africa were poached in the same way. Fortunately, the owners of the reserve caught wind of what was happening and made it out to save their lives. Sadly, their faces were mutilated as the horns were removed. Bonnie who was pregnant with her second attempt at a calf lost her baby.
Here’s the thing… Rhino horns actually grow back every four years. Right now throughout Africa reserve owners are trying to pass a law that will allow them to harvest the horns. This way the horns can be removed safely and the animals can live. The profit of the horn would go to the reserve to help with the conservation of the animals on their property.
So what difference can you make? How can you help the Rhino’s? First of all speak up and speak out. Share what knowledge you have about the species and their survival with anyone who will listen. Stay away from products made of Ivory and Rhino Horns. Share what you know on Social Media. Take your kids to nationally accredited zoos and educate your children on the importance of saving these beautiful animals.
Here’s a few links about Rhino Conservation for you to keep up to date with what is going on in Africa.
Africa Wildlife Foundation
Save The Rhino
Stop Rhino Poaching