Friday, 21 December 2012

Save the Rhino: what can be done and how you can do your bit...

Last week we published an article The Iconic Rhino Faces Extinction in South Africa, about the plight of the rhino and the dangers facing this beautiful creature which is such an icon of Africa. This week I wanted to share with you what is being done in this country to tackle the situation and what you can do to do your bit.

Anti-Poaching Agencies and Organisaitons are attempting to:
  • Protect existing key rhino populations through trained conservationists and awareness in nearby communities.
  • Break the trade chains and increase law enforcement around rhino poaching.
  • Improve communications between South Africa and the horn consumer countries in the East. On 10th December a deal was signed between South Africa and Vietnam in an attempt to slow the demand for the rhino horn and crack down on poachers and the organised crime around this issue. 
  • Experts are trying to understanding the rhino horn trade and influence the buyers as to the effects of the poaching on the rhino population.

The main problem that anti-poachers face: money.

Anti-poaching campaigns cost millions – from the equipment (aircraft and trackers etc.) to the military type training of conservationists and tracking teams, alongside the sheer size of the areas which need to be patrolled. To date anti-poachers have not received nearly enough monetary support to run effective campaigns. 

Many also feel that the government needs to be harder on the poachers and catch the ring-leaders higher up the demand chain. Several arrests have been made so far in 2012 but all of these arrests were of the men on the ground, the footmen of the poaching world, of which there is a constant supply. There has been no breaking of the key criminal rings which are driving and funding the poaching.

What can you do to help? 
  • Raise funds and donate money. Unfortunately conservation of the rhino and it's environment is extremely expensive and is a long term investment. Despite the huge efforts of the conservationists on the ground we are not yet winning the war. If you would like to support or help to raise awareness of anti rhino poaching organisations here are a few of the most useful organisations, in my opinion, to support:

    Donate to the WESSA Rhino Fund - the Wildlife & Environmental Society of South Africa have been operating since 1926 and are a leading organisation in conservation in South Africa. Their rhino fund is pro-actively supporting interventions that will have lasting solutions such as: the standardizing of Field Guide training to support our guides and educate them in how to deal with poaching, to get as many of the rhino population listed in the Rhino DNA Information System (RhoDIS), information gathering and passing on to vital parties and fundraising and awareness campaigns.

    - WWF Rhino Conservation Campaign - click here to read their most recent article and donate to the World Wide Fund for Nature.

  • If you're looking to donate in a small way you can support causes like the below by buying the "Save the Rhino" CD. Every little counts!

  • If you're in South Africa and you see or hear of any questionable activity please report in the the Department of Environmental Affairs Rhino Hotline on 0800 205 005.

  • Help to raise awareness of the plight of the rhino - share this article on your facebook pages, email it to friends, keep an eye out for updates on our facebook page and share share share! We need your help to move forward in this struggle.

  • At the moment the fight is all about awareness. Please support the cause if the rhino in any small way that you can - even just by sharing this article.

    Look out for our blog next week on the launch of our newest project – Rhino Ambassador Stewardship Project (RASP) – which places the onus on the volunteer to take responsibility to support the cause of the rhino long after they have left south Africa.

    If you know of other key Rhino funds which need support please post them in a comment below this blog.


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