my kingdom for a rhino

While in South Africa, I had the lucky pleasure of being in the company of some seriously amazing and incredible animals, but few have made a deeper impact on me than one in particular.

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Between a three-day trip through Kruger National Park and a drive on a privately-owned reserve, I was lucky enough to have been in the company of white rhinos.

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Weighing in at anywhere from 1,500 up to 10,000 lbs, the rhinoceros are remarkably gentle giants. Though their armour-like skin and horns protect them against most wild animals, it attracts another…

There are several organizations and a lot of support lobbying against the illegal trade of horns, and putting concentrated effort on restoring and protecting the populations, but the last few years have still seen a devastating climb in deaths.

Rhino poaching rose 3000% in South Africa with well over 400 animals killed in 2011, and more continue to be hunted despite anti-poaching efforts. The problem is illegal trafficking for medicines ranging from treatment for blood disorders to a “cure” for cancer, and even supplements for male virility…. all myths.

The pursuit is without discretion. Infant rhinos are orphaned when their mothers are shot for no other token than their horns. Some poachers have used heavy sedatives, but the weight of a rhino is so much that if they lay down for too long, it can actually cause excessive muscle damage.

Like two of the rhinos I had the chance to “meet”…

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Just two weeks after my visit to the private reserve, I learned that the resident rhinos – a pair that, nearing 8 and 10 years of age, had still not reached sexual maturity – had been poached. Though they survived the initial assault, the trauma was too severe for them to recover.

With enough support, rhino poaching is something that is within our power to put an end to. I just hope there is enough before it’s too late.

You can learn more about anti-poaching and rhino conservation here: http://www.uniteagainstpoaching.co.za

Or check out the work that WWF does. http://worldwildlife.org/species/rhino
and http://worldwildlife.org/pages/stop-wildlife-crime

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