‘The carcass of the poached rhino was about a week old when the Vietnamese delegation saw it in a South African wildlife park. There was a strong smell of rot, and animals had scavenged most of the meat. Rangers found the bullet that killed it by scouring the ground with a metal detector. The rhino horn was gone, hacked off its snout.’
‘I saw many beautiful things in Kruger but this makes me very sad. We must do something about rhino poaching,’ he said.
Until the Vietnamese understand that rhino horn is just keratin, like our hair and nails, and has no medicinal properties that can cure diseases like cancer, rhino poaching in Africa and elsewhere will continue.
The mindset of thinking it's a 'cool' thing to own a rhino horn to show you 'have arrived' also needs to be broken because it comes at the expense of a 50-million-year old species.
I don’t entirely blame the poachers on the ground – they’re just the small fish who are often the fall-guys, the ones who need money to feed their families.
I blame the big wigs who organise the trade on a Mafia-like scale. I blame corrupt government officials. I blame those wildlife rangers and vets who are greedy and unethical. And mostly I blame end consumers in the East for the ignorance that creates the market for rhino horn in the first place.
Compare this to only 7 rhinos lost to poaching in 2000 and 22 a decade ago in 2003, and it’s obvious that the situation has got badly out of hand.
Parks staff are doing the best they can, supported by the defence force and many organisations raising money to fund the battle. We’ve also seen harsher sentences for convicted poachers.
But corruption and greed are strong motivators that will take a lot of beating.
What do you think of this education campaign? Will it help solve the rhino poaching crisis or not? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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