Monday, June 7, 2010
Rhino crisis in South Africa
South Africa has a serious rhino poaching crisis! The numbers of rhinos poached this year, is the worst ever. It's absurd that there is almost no attention for this problem in the worldwide media. In 2010 only, over 80 white rhinos have been poached by professional gangs to meet a growing demand for horns. People in South Africa are poor and need quick pocket money. Rhino horn is still used in many Chinese traditional medicine products and in Yemen as handles for traditional swords. Both markets are continiously growing, because more and more people can afford these expensive products: very worrying!! The horrendous poachers use helicopters and even veterinary immobilization drugs to dart the free-ranging rhinos instead of shooting them, to prevent making a noise. For the same reason they often leave the poor animal bleeding to death. Last week a rhino without a face was found wandering around in a reserve. The poachers had cut off the horn and the complete face with an electric saw. The animal was breathing through a hole in between its eyes. Sickening!! Horrible suffering what could easily have been avoided by a few gunshots. These actions make these poachers not just criminals, but barbaric! Who are these 'people'?? These professionals do their homework well and possible have connections in the South African political system: they know which reserves have rhinos, how many and which anti-poaching control is in place. The fact that you undertake strong anti-poaching actions assists to reduce the likelyhood to become a target. In regarding to the rapid speed the poaching increased over the last year, quick actions are crucial. De-horning rhinos seems to solve the problem short-term. When we de-horn a rhino as an anti-poaching method, we cut off the horn 7-8 cm above the basis to make sure it does not bleed. The horn grows back in several years and the fact that it's not permanent, is great. On top of that, the precious endangered animals really are much more safe! It's almost impossible to protect the large areas they live in, so to not having a horn at all seems to be the most effective anti-poaching method. As far as we know, it does not influence their natural behaviour and the stump can still act as a defence weapon. On top of that, dehorned rhinos have a good chance to survive fights (bruised, but okay) with each other. Rhino bulls with long horns are known to be able to kill other rhinos, both males and females. Rhinos also break their horns naturally in the wild, which grow back the same as de-horned ones. Okay, of course it's much nicer to see them with a horn, but don't you agree their lifes are more important? The immobilizations to de-horn a rhino takes a maximum of 10 minutes and the total time from darting to a fully awake rhino is approximately 18 minutes. That's IT! After these 10 minutes of 'tripping' with a drugs 10.000 times stronger than morphine (don't tell me that's suffering), they are up in their feet and 100% awake as if nothing ever happened. Each time I de-horn a rhino, I am happy to be able to make a contribution to the safety of this ancient amazing animal. These species are soooo much longer on this planet than human beings and we MUST protect them from going extinct!