I know that many of you are far away from the problems we face here in South Africa, and my pet subject at the moment (rhino poaching) may not mean much to you in real terms.
However, I ask you to bear with me for this month as September is rhino protection month. Sept 22 is rhino day.
I shared this picture on Facebook earlier today and because of the comments I received I thought it good to share it with you if only to increase world-wide awareness of what is happening here. If you look at the statistics, one rhino is being poached every 21 hours in South Africa. There are not many left. Baby rhinos are being orphaned and many of them die after seeing their mothers mutilated and killed.
So I’ll ask you, how does this picture make you feel?
In a landmark move, a top-secret mission has been accomplished by game reserves in the Hoedspruit region. After an almost unanimous decision, all rhinos in our area around Hoedspruit have been dehorned to minimise rhino poaching. The action was kept under wraps so that poaching was not increased before the task could be completed.
This is a temporary measure to ensure the safety of our rhinos while other actions are being put into place in the region. A rhino action group has been formed and funds are being raised to increase the protection of this species. In Hoedspruit we are lucky to have the support of our local air force base who assist with air surveillance, and Protrack which is a private anti-poaching unit operating in all the private game reserves. Our local police department are also very active in anti-poaching and see this as a priority. Plans have also been put into place where each and every rhino in the area will have its own armed bodyguard keeping it under surveillance.
This last week two rhino poachers were shot and killed in the Kruger National Park. Lets hope that poachers will start getting the message and all this unnecessary killing and destruction can finally come to an end.
Personally, I am glad to see something being done to end poaching. There has been a lot of hype, fund-raising and media attention – all of which is necessary, but it’s now time to see some action. Well done Hoedspruit and the Rhino Action Group!
Rhino dehorning is a controversial topic, and many say that it is not the answer. I agree – it’s not the final answer to our problems, but until such time, it will assist in slowing down poaching and protect the species from total annihilation. For those of you who do not know, rhino horns are made of hair and do regrow at a rate of 1 to 3 inches per year.
Tomorrow is the 1st of September. Traditionally celebrated as spring day here in South Africa. Our weather is normally warming up, birds are returning, and trees are budding and blossoming. Schools and businesses normally celebrate by encouraging students and/or staff to wear bright colours. It’s such a cheerful day.
This morning I caught my first whiff of orange blossoms. Hoedspruit has the most amazing orange blossom smell for a week or two in spring time.
Tomorrow, however, I am going to be doing spring day a little differently.
If you have followed some of my recent posts on rhino poaching you will know what an awful problem we have here in SA. It’s time we grabbed this problem – all of us – and sorted it out. There has been a lot of talk, and quite a bit of money raised – but what is going to stop the poaching? We need to raise the awareness of this issue, from a national level to an international level and things need to get done. Soon we will only be able to show our children and grandchildren pictures of these amazing beasts because there won’t be any left.
South Africans (and people all around the world) are uniting tomorrow on spring day to bring about awareness of the rapidly depleting rhino population in South Africa and asking the government to take a serious stand against poaching of rhinos.
I am wearing black tomorrow and will tie a black ribbon around the right hand mirror of my car. Many South Africans (and others around the world) are doing this to show poachers that the people of South Africa will stand together and say no to poaching.
There is a Facebook event with more information which can be accessed if you click here.
Will you be joining me?
Get your Facebook “Stop Rhino Poaching” badges here
Getaway journalist Christie Fynn reports back from Aquila Private Game Reserve on the recovery of ABSA, the rhino involved in the weekend’s poaching incident.
I couldn’t handle sitting back behind my desk watching Aquila’s updates about ABSA’s progress on their social media platforms. I felt helpless and was itching to get back out to the reserve to report to you firsthand how the big guy’s getting on. Here is ABSA’s day-by-day progress since I was there on Sunday 21 August 2011. (read more: The Aquila rhino massacre – ABSA’s progress.)
Update 09h50 – It’s just been reported that ABSA has died.
Two innocent lives lost because of myths and greed.
The year’s third confirmed killing of a rhino in South Africa has turned out to be a double tragedy, as the rhino was pregnant. The horrifying discovery was made at a game farm in the Hoedspruit area of Limpopo Province.
She had been shot with a high-caliber hunting rifle.
Even after cracking open a syndicate of rhino poachers locally, the slaughter continues. Many different approaches are being used to try to prevent rhino poaching including horn microchipping, and dehorning, although dehorning is really only possible when the animal is not under threat from its natural enemies. Some local pilots volunteer their time to patrol areas by air and there are also local anti-poaching units that patrol on foot. As an extreme measure a few anonymous game farmers have taken the law into their own hands and are poisoning the horns of their rhinos – the poison does not affect the rhino but will kill whoever eats the ground rhino horn powder. It is believed that there are people within the conservation field who are cashing in on the sale of the horns.
This is a white rhino we spotted this weekend on a game drive at Matumi Lodge.