Thursday, 12 January 2012

Please dehorn our rhino

Yesterday eight rhino bodies were found in Kruger. This brings this 12-day year total to 20 rhino killed for their horns. Indeed, 443 were killed last year - that's more than one per day most of the year. A clip on the news last night showed a baby rhino pacing next to the body of its dead mother.

I'm all for these anti-poaching organisations and there are many funding ventures to support these initiatives. I've got one of Woolies' My Planet cards, linked to the Rhino Fund; this is one of many.

But, I have to question just how effective any of these initiatives are? For as long as rhinos have horns and the Chinese and Vietnamese continue think it will make their willies bigger and stronger (or alternatively that rhino horn is life-saving medication) and the sale of a rhino horn can fetch millions per kilogram, the slaughter will continue. Doesn't take an actuary to do this math.

So, just put all that anti-poaching money into tranquilising and dehorning rhino and then have a big fat keratin bonfire.

'People' say that this isn't an option because tourists won't come to our game parks and reserves to see rhino without horns. Bull. Rhino are impressive even without horns and people don't come here just to see rhino; they come to see the other animals too. A rhino sighting is a bonus.

Dehorned rhino at Alzu
Driving back from the Big 5 O on Sunday we stopped at the Alzu petroport on the N12 between Belfast and Middelburg. They've done a big revamp there - nice facilities and such. Men can take look out over animals at a water trough, while taking a whizz in the gents bathroom, from behind a floor to ceiling window. The animals that they're looking down on include zebra, eland, wildebeest, buffalo, some other antelope and yes, rhino.

I saw two adults and a youngster from the parking area. Both adults had been dehorned and they didn't look any less magnificent to me. In fact, I was thinking, "How cool! Next time I'm here these rhino will still be alive because of this". You can't say this about rhino with horns.

I'm no conservationist expert and truth be told I have no idea what is actually happening within the rhino protection programmes but I do know that whatever is happening is just not effective enough. One rhino killed for its horn is unacceptable. 20 killed already this year... no, no no!

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