There were those who found it mildly amusing that the National Press Club made the rhino its Newsmaker of the Year for 2012. It’s not amusing at all, in fact it reflects a tragic news story that appears in our media almost every day now. And that’s the whole point.
The rare picture of a rhino, horn intact, on our cover this month, provided courtesy of SATIB Trust photographer Brian Courtenay, says a great deal about the current situation of this animal in South Africa. The figures given in our Rhino Conservation article are horrific – 1657 rhinos butchered and shot in three and a half years in both public and private parks and game farms in this country is truly shocking. That’s one rhino killed almost EVERY DAY!
And for what? Rhino horn, a substance made of keratin, which has no medicinal value whatsoever, but purveyors of mumbo-jumbo medicine have persuaded gullible fools with more money than sense that it is a miracle cure for everything from impotence to cancer. The fact that many people have more money than brainpower, that desperate people will pay almost anything for a “cure” for whatever ails them, has enabled the evil to prey on the foolish for almost as long as people have walked the earth.
And while it seems that there are many who could not care less, there are plenty of people out there who really do care, and go to great lengths, sometimes even absurd lengths, to try and save the rhino from extinction. Their hearts are in the right place, and it will take both proactive and reactive efforts to win this battle against a crime that is both ugly and wicked.
At Tourism Tattler we take this issue very seriously, and have highlighted just one of many initiatives being made to raise awareness on the plight of our rhino. By the time you read this edition, Rhino Knight Isabel Wolf-Gillespie will be well into her 10,000km journey around southern Africa.
More importantly, we’d like to know what YOU think, as our readers. Are conservationists, game reserve managers and game breeders going about things the right way, or do they have to have a huge rethink? How much can government do, and how much is up to us as individuals? And how do we stop people in Asian countries from being so gullible?
Let’s have your views. Comment beneath the articles (and stand the chance of winning a wildlife documentary DVD).