acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

rhino wars





Winter has arrived today with a cheeky wind that makes the tin sheets on the roof grate together in a fingernails on blackboards kind of way.  The monkeys were here early testing the metal - they love to thunder up and down on the wriggly tin, rolling and tumbling and falling from the overhanging trees.  It could be fun if we could join them, but its a better way to wake up than some urban alarm clock.

We are in the midst of a rhino war.   These giant gentle creatures are being mown down all around us for the sake of the horns that grow on their noses. What bad luck to have such a thing. They are our living unicorns - whats left of them.  



We are trying everything, but as long as the buyers in China are still able to pay, our rhinos only have the chances we can make for them. Very sadly, as our rhinos are killed, and numbers decrease, the horns on their noses increase in value which makes extinction a very real possibility in our lifetimes.

The other night we were out following a lion down the road. We smelt a funny smell but as the lion had walked right past we didnt think it could be a dead thing. The next day we went back to look. There was a blood spoor. Splashes of blood connected by dribbles of dark red spots.  Then we saw a rhino track smudged into the blood here and there.  We called in the anti poaching team and waited for them, not wanting to disturb any tracks and clues that might be about.



Finally, our worst fears are confirmed. A big bull rhino carcass lay in a clearing - his horn roughly hacked off.  There is little dignity in death. The smell of the decaying process is overwhelming. I wanted to go and lay flowers on the body - like the Indians do when elephants are hit by trains. But we cannot interfere with the crime scene. I think I have been in mourning the past week for the senseless avaricious nature of this death and the suffering and trauma that preceeded it. 

Oh, I wasnt going to talk about the rhino issue - but now I have.


(Rhino horn is made of compressed hair like structures containing keratin and protein. There is a dense inner core of calcium and melanin similar to horses hooves or birds beaks. Mineral content varies according to range and diet.  Scientific research has proved that rhino horn has no medicinal properties)






19 comments:

Angela said...

It makes me furious to hear such stories, but yes, it is good to tell them, Val! Can`t you have them translated into Mandarin and Kantonese and whatever languages are spoken in China, and put up signs everywhere in the country! How dare these poachers, who are nothing better than murderers,come into a foreign country and kill their wild animals? Just for the sake of getting better erections?! Arrrrgh! There are chemical pills which do a better job than hooves and horns and fingernails! What can be done? I am not willing to accept such a crime. Who of your readers is a journalist? Who speaks Chinese? Who has access to Chinese media, especially facebook?
You really made my blood boil. I always loved unicorns!! Don`t the Chinese?

mermaid gallery said...

How sad and discouraging to hear of the rhino's plight. Such senseless killing must stop....but the nature of the beast(people!) has a long history of disrespect to animals. You need a big organization like P.E.T.A. to get involved....or the Jolie Pitts maybe. I doubt if the Chinese will stop on their own.....

Lauri said...

I know we hear a lot about the South African rhino poaching stats, do you have them for Bots?

Janet said...

greed is the biggest reason why we are losing this war!!!
Most ideas about trying to stop this have validity, but none work in isolation.

Angela, a small ad agency in Durban has created an ad which is (was) running in some China-bound inflight magazines ... I don't know if they worked.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4tFgzffhxc

Val said...

Geli - I believe the group TRAFFIC is doing a lot via media campaigns in asian countries including China; the younger generation are more aware, but traditions run deep; a horn from a live rhino is worth more, and the more endangered the species the more valuable the horn. doesnt give us much hope. but we must try everything! we need wild rhinos in our ecosystems x

Mermaid - you are right - there is a long history of disrespect - in this case Money talks. It would be great if everyone could get involved that has any influence at all.

Lauri - I dont have stats for Botswana because there are so much fewer rhinos there. But there are some and I hope they stay safe and protected through this seige.

Val said...

Janet - you are right. There was also a youtube video that was translated and launched onto the Chinese version of You Tube;
seems to be happening fast now. But we are not defeated yet!

Amanda said...

this left me sickened and sad, sad, sad......

extinction in our lifetimes. and today i read an article that our poisoned seas will soon only support jellyfish as all other creatures are dying off.

where are we headed? what are we doing to this world? i keep thinking there must be some greater answer, some greater meaning behind all this suffering.

thank you, val, for your continuing dedication and insight into the important issues of animal preservation in africa. we need sentinels such as you to keep a watchful and protective eye on these precious creatures.

Cheryl Cato said...

Val, I am so, so sorry to read this. I know much this disturbs you and the rest of us animal lovers. There are so many atrocities taking place in the world against animals, humans, and our planet that it is almost overwhelming.

Blessed be the rhinos.

Katherine said...

I am also sorry to hear that no progress is being made in this area. I wonder if the increasing wealth in China is creating more demand for rhino horn... Such a pity.

Val said...

Amanda - i feel the same; but we mostly hear of the bad news, and hear less of those working incredibly hard to save protect and conserve habitats. loss of habitat is the biggest risk to all our varied species - including humans- on this awesome planet. Its a big challenge and we must come up with new ideas and solutions. This is the time of change eh?

Cheryl - yes, sorry, it is a big of a tragic blog post, but we need to keep positive about outcomes or else it is just too overwhelming.

Katherine - yes absolutely it is the increasing wealth in China, and asian countries that is fuelling the assault on Africa's wild places on land and sea - the rhino's are the biggest most endangered species - the smaller ones we barely hear about.

joost said...

How to become very angry in around 500 words...
Very sad to read this story.
I hope more and more people will get angry and create a very bad carma for this people.. that's the least we can do.

Val,by publishing this story on the web you pay much honor to this big innocent animal.

Keep up your good work, I know you will never give up!

Val said...

Joost - thanks for the encouragement. what haunts me is that the pattern of the blood spoor indicates the horn was hacked off while the rhino was still alive. Horn frm a live rhino is worth more. How sick are these people??

Sorry to blog about sadness, but this affects us all.

xx

joost said...

How cruel hunting or poaching is.. I tought there would be something like honor between hunter and prey.

Last week I saw a program on tv were an afrikaner vet had to kill a rhino were the horn had been hacked of but was still alive (alive means still having a heartbeat and not much more). Apperently the vet was known as an unemotional person. But after a month he still woke up at night seeing this rhino breathing heavily and looking at the vet with eyes begging to kill it. I can tell you watching that footage didn't only make the vets eyes wet.

Val said...

Joost - i saw that programme. it was last year so i am glad they are still showing it. heart breaking. this is what we think happened here - that the rhino walked around for a while with its face hacked off breathing out blood on the path :(:( We have gone from awful snares, to shooting and now this. sometimes they use vet drugs to immobilise, hack off the face and then take the horn and go, leaving the animal to regain conciousness. sorry but thats what they do. we have to make our rhinos safe - they belong to everyone xx

Vagabonde said...

I cannot believe that in 2012 people are behaving like animals, actually behaving worse than animals – and for money. As Janet says greed is the reason. For greed people will do anything – rule countries against the will of the people, bribe politicians, kill unharmed civilians and harmless animals, etc. I do not believe it will get better, it is too late and the world population is growing too rapidly.

e said...

A sad commentary on human disrespect for animals, greed and stupidity. Thanks for sharing this, Val. The only way people will learn is through sharing. Sadly, most of those who need to read this probably won't.

Mark Benson said...

Whichever African destination you head to quite a many offer for you some amazing wild life experiences. You should take flights to South Africa and spend a vacation there to get to know the spectacular wild life it is home to. Have a great trip exploring the great Rhinos of South Africa.

Kerry said...

This breaks my heart.

Val said...

Vagabonde - alas ivory and rhino horn (and other endangered species) have become like a kind of currency - bought with dollars and traded into chinese currency; and this at a time when China sends the first manned space craft off to mars.

e - yes you are probably right, but thanks for letting me get it off my chest a bit

kerry - its a heartbreaker for sure, but we have to keep thinking forward. its another challenge!