Life in African Wildlife Conservation is like a roller coaster ride of highs and lows as illustrated by these two rhino stories.
One of the advantageous of the internet, especially Facebook, is the ease at which we can share information with a wide and diverse audience. As we at Nikela are about sharing stories about people saving wildlife I found these two most poignant in their extremes.
First Birth – Courage and Hope
Via Sam Kannemeyer on FB
As you will know, monitoring black rhinos is not a job for the faint of heart. These magnificent animals are browsers and are particularly fond of hanging out in thickets that sometimes appear impenetrable, and are certainly not a very natural habitat for humans on foot.
It was into one of these thickets that one dedicated rhino monitoring officer and his three Botswana Defense Force companions ventured … in search of a large female black rhino who was known to have a liking for the leaves of the guarri bushes which grows in dense clusters in that area.
They knew this lady very well, since she had already rushed them on a previous occasion, and would normally have left her alone to get on with her life except for the fact that they knew she was heavily pregnant. With great tracking skill they managed to locate her right in the very heart of this difficult bush, and to their great joy and excitement, they saw that she indeed had a very small calf with her, which they estimated to be no more than a few days old.
Having been so professional in their approach, the rhino was completely unaware of their presence, and so they made their way out of the thicket and back to their vehicle in a remote and very wild part of the northern Botswana wilderness.
My report came via message a world away from these dedicated and brave men who shared my pride and happiness and that of our entire team with the news of the first birth to the recent black rhino moved to Botswana.
The new arrival has not yet been sexed because the guys were in thick bush, did not wish to disturb the family and the calf is very young. They will be left strictly alone for the next few weeks as the youngster gains strength and starts to run around with her mother.
Chalk one up for the good guys.
New Money – Greed and Disaster
Via Colin Bell on FB
We (at Rhino Conservation) had a fascinating evening with Karl Ammann where he shared the findings from his latest investigative trip into the heart of the rhino horn markets in Vietnam and China.
It appears as though the recent well publicised survey that concluded optimistically that demand for rhino horn products is 38% down is off the mark. That survey only investigated the demand for rhino products in traditional Asian / Chinese medicine where the demand for rhino horn may indeed be way down.
However, Karl found that the demand for rhino horn had reached new peaks driven by new consumers and new products. Prices in Asia were at record levels….. a gram of rhino horn was now selling for US$100 or US$100,000 per kg – way up from the retail price of US$65,000 / kg of not long ago (or more than double the price of gold!!!).
Furthermore the criminal syndicates had created innovative new products from rhino horn including decorative bracelets that were fast becoming the new fashion.
Worst news still is that it now seems as though Chinese status seeking consumers have started to develop an appetite for rhino horn and are travelling to Vietnam to buy rhino products in numbers. His message was very clear – the future for rhinos in the wild looks bleak unless the world can protect rhinos in the wild and stamp out Asian demand because there are simply not enough rhinos left to satisfy Asian consumers once Asians develop an appetite for rhino horn at scale. Interesting enough, Karl used to be pro-rhino horn trade as the solution to solve the rhino poaching crisis.
He has now switched 180 degrees and is anti-trade as he believes that there are not enough rhinos in the world to satisfy rampant Asian consumption no matter what the price is. Here are some of his photos from Vietnam showing rhino bracelets and a fake water buffalo horn that has been carved to look like rhino horn.
All is not lost if we do our part in spreading the word and doing what we can to change the tide of buying in Asia.
More About the Rhino Crisis
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