Monday, March 28, 2011

Rhinos of Africa Need Us.........

to stand up and be counted!  Today I am dedicating my post to the survival and defence of the Rhino of Africa. I had never thought that I would divert the purpose of my blog away from travel to Africa’s beautiful destinations to start ranting about certain subjects but the programme I watched last night on our TV service Carte Blanche has convinced me that I should at least say something.
I watched in horror as we were faced with a visual nightmare that defies description. For those who don’t have the luxury of African DSTV, the footage showed a young rhino whose face was hacked off for the rhino horn and he woke up after the “operation” and was found wandering around a reserve in the Eastern Cape. As a wildlife photographer I have witnessed “kills” and photographed them but I have never felt the same amount of emotion as I felt when I saw that rhino with half his face gone.

When one is faced with such a surreal spectacle a gamut of thoughts crowd the mind and I have to admit that vengeance was my very first emotion. I will not sully my writing with the expletives that erupted from my mouth and the anger that I expressed while watching. Suffice it to say that I immediately decided that putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboards) would perhaps be a more constructive way to deal with the emotion. To add my voice to the thousands already baying for the destruction of the perpetrators would have a purpose at least.
However, is this enough? Clearly the solutions being touted by the WWF who declare that education is the key is not having the desired effect. The voice must become much louder, in fact, it must become so loud that it drowns out all else in the world. We, who visit and photograph these animals on a daily basis have a responsibility to raise that voice. Even if we aren’t able to be the ones chasing down the poachers we can ensure that the awareness campaign is kept at such a crescendo that governments and world bodies have to react. 

In all of this we must recognise that money is the key. The rhinos are being slaughtered for money – but what if we turned the tables on the poachers and offered substantial rewards to those who turn them in? What if we had a fund that could sustain an anti-poaching army? What if the fund could somehow pay for the tracking of these animals for their protection? Would you be willing to fund a tracking device for one rhino?
Each one of us who feels enough anger would surely feel motivated enough to donate to a fund that will take firm and decisive action and produce results to preserve and defend a rare and beautiful animal. We should all consider it and appeal to the many organisations out there already doing the work that they should change tack and declare war in as many ways as they can. We as photographers can keep the visual awareness going. We can post as many photos as we can about rhinos, we can talk about rhinos and we can help fight the good fight!
This is what we want to see..............beautiful healthy rhinos living in the wilderness of Africa! Please add your voice to the comments below!
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