Saving African Wildlife and a Plea for Rescuing the Rhinos
When we were in South Africa in 2013 we visited Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park in northern Natal. We stayed a week at Hilltop Camp in one of their chalets and had a wonderful time, driving on our own self-drive safaris daily and having the privilege of seeing up close so many of the famed African wildlife, many of them from the so-called “Big 5” or “Big 6” group. We were excited about them all, from the largest (elephants), to the tallest (giraffes), to the smallest (a tiny chameleon crossing the road). But, we were especially happy to see many elephants and many rhinos, often mothers with babies. Such magnificent beasts.
However, what was not a good experience was to come upon a large group of rangers and vehicles one day, all heavily armed, in a wild part of the park. We discovered later that they were investigating a rhino that had been poached the night before, killed and the body just left there after the poachers had taken the horn. Such vicious slaughter made all of the visitors to the park very sad, very angry, but we all also felt rather helpless as it seems that there is no solution in sight to this problem.
We read pamphlets and booklets about poaching, saw videos about where the horns and tusks are destined (Asia, through Vietnam), and editorials on suggestions of what could and should be done to stop this practice. For any idea to be implemented, money is needed—-lots of money—and there are donation boxes at Durban airport and other places, as one way of trying to raise some funds.
Since that visit, I’ve wanted to write something about the plight of these animals, especially the rhinos, which are extremely vulnerable. My cousin, who works for World Wildlife Fund, quotes terrible statistics: South Africa has 80% of the world’s rhinos. In 2007, 13 were poached. By November 6, 2013, 825 had already been poached! The numbers this year are already horrendous.
But, what to write, and where?
Luckily, many well-known/famous people also think this is a huge disaster waiting to happen and they are willing and able to advocate for the animals. Very recently (February 8, 2014), Prince Charles and Prince William of Britain had a news conference and made a video, where they discuss this problem and make a plea to the rest of the world to save these endangered creatures before they are gone for good. It’s very interesting, as they make the plea in a number of languages: Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, Swahili and Vietnamese.
The Princes give all the facts and figures far better than I could, so take a look here. At the beginning of the article is the video clip (about 6 minutes long—the pleas in the other languages are at the end), followed by the article.