Where to for our rhinos?

The 22nd of September marked the ninth World Rhino Day. We were in the Kruger National Park on the day, appreciating and enjoying the opportunity to see these wondrous creatures in real life in their natural habitat.

Sadly, the scourge of rhino poaching is still very real and present, with South Africa losing a total of 769 rhinos in 2018. While this is an encouraging decline of 25% from the numbers lost in 2017, the war has by no means been won yet. In the first six months of this year, we’ve already lost 318 more rhinos, 190 of which from the Kruger National Park. We continue to rally behind our rangers looking after these animals day and night, placing their lives on the line to ensure the survival of these animals so future generations may also experience the wonder of seeing the grey behemoths walking Africa’s savannas.

We also recently had the opportunity to visit a rehabilitation centre where rhinos injured or orphaned through poaching activities are cared for. It was a sobering experience to say the least; seeing with our own eyes the horrors inflicted on these beings by humankind, and the lengths their caregivers will go to to try and save them.

41 thoughts on “Where to for our rhinos?

  1. bestregardsfromfar

    The numbers are absolutely shocking!! At this rate they will become extinct fast, like so many other animals. It turns my stomach when I think of all the cruelty done to these wonderful prehistoric giants by human beings and ashamed to be human. Fighting rhino poaching seems an endless battle that should be fought at the root in Asia as well… and punishments for poachers should increase. Ode to Damien Mander and his team of anti poachers in Zimbabwe! SA needs them too. I had hoped that SA is getting better in fighting it but has a long way to go, especially with the corruption. I remember seeing a rhino in a private game reserve of which conservationists sawed of the horn in order to protect it. It is sick that it has to come to this.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      One has to consider that South Africa has far more rhinos to protect than any other country in the world – it is estimated that South Africa is still home to 80%+ of the earth’s rhinos. As a result, the poachers find it much easier to find their targets here than they would in any other country. It is a war out there and the rangers have our full support; there really are hundreds of dedicated, passionate men and women putting their lives on the line daily to ensure these animals remain safe in the face of this terrible onslaught. The poverty in the rural areas where most of our reserves are found also means that the syndicates behind the illegal wildlife trade have a ready supply to people willing to risk their lives to poach. There’s no way the poaching will stop if the market for such products, and it’s not only rhino horn we’re talking about here, is not stamped out.

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  2. aj vosse

    Keep up the good work Dries and everyone else involved! This is where mankind should focus some of their efforts… and not on the myth of climate emergencies! Your posts are invaluable… seen by so many and appreciated for their fact!

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  3. naturebackin

    Even seeing rhinos now makes me fearful as I can’t help wondering what fate awaits each individual we see. Besides the traditional medicines and dagger handles for which the horns are sought there are too the trophy hunters who find some kind of challenge in shooting even placid White Rhinos. It is all very sad, and I also salute those who work so hard to protect the rhinos and those who work to rescue and rehabilitate survivors.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      It is the same realisation that fills me every time I look at our older rhino photos – are they still alive? Naturally, most of them should be – rhinos live to around 40 years – but given the poaching onslaught that’s not necessarily the case anymore.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Rhinos really are such charismatic beings, Anne-Christine, and I can’t fathom why people cling to such outdated superstitions when they can see the harm it is doing.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      If it weren’t for entrenched superstitions there would be no fuel for this particular kind of greed. The market for rhino horn and other wildlife “products” really has to be eradicated before the poaching will stop.

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  4. Tranature - quiet moments in nature

    Any rhino poached is one too many Dries and I hope that education programmes will work hand in hand with the guards to protect the animals so that future generations will have a more caring and responsible attitude. Thank you for sharing this and the sanctuary is a wonderful initiative (one that could also play a great role in education, if they’re not doing this already) πŸ™‚πŸ’œπŸ¦

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Changing the attitudes of the “market” is indeed vitally important, Xenia, for as long as it exists in its current form the rangers will find the going very tough.
      Unfortunately even these sanctuaries where the injured and orphaned rhinos are cared for have come under attack from poachers, and therefore many keep their location strictly confidential, thus not allowing visitors in general. I was at pains to ensure the pictures I posted did not have any discernible features by which a location or the authority operating the centre could be identified.
      So sad that it has come to this.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Absoluut, Una, en daarom moet ons aanhou om die veldwagters in hul taak aan te moedig. Ja, daar is verraaiers in hul geledere ook – watter bedryf het dit nie? – maar daar is soveel meer van hulle wat met bloed en sweet hierdie diere op die hart dra.

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  5. Reflections of an Untidy Mind

    I can understand the motivation of the poachers (money), but the motivation of the users of the so-called products is mystifying. Or maybe it is not so different to fad for superfoods, with far more serious consequences. A world without the beautiful rhino would be very hard to imagine.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      It is shocking that in 2019 we still have so many people clinging to baseless superstitions as to create a thriving illicit market for animal “products” like rhino horn, pangolin scales, lion and tiger bones, etc…

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  6. T Ibara Photo

    It is horrible that “humanity” can be inhumane to our fellow living creatures. Throughout mankind’s relatively short history, we have inflicted the most damage on this planet (and each other). I respect the caregivers who work very hard to protect these beautiful rhinos.

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