The plight of rhino’s worldwide has been worrying me for some time now. And this week was just another sad week, with the western black rhino officially declared extinct.
The demand for rhino horn and the consequent rhino poaching, gets press all-over. And it is never good press.
In Europe, people who make models for musea are being approached (and offered up to 5000 Euro) to gather information regarding the location of real horns. Rhino horns are being stolen from public and private collections, yet worse of all, here in Kenya, poaching (of both rhino and elephant) has gone up again since the arrival of the Chinese. They come here for road construction, yet some of them seem to have lucrative yet very unfortunate side businesses (China and Vietnam are 2 of the main markets for rhino horn powder). You can safely call this a flipside of ‘development’. And although the poachers are cruel (Save the Rhino last week shared some images of a life animal which horn had been cut, just the thought of it still enrages me), it is the people who use and buy the horn powder that are the real culprits. For a big 4 kg horn, merchants can touch up to 200 000 Euro. These same merchants would pay a poacher around 1000 USD for the same horn. In a country where the majority of the people has to survive on less than 1 USD per day, this is serious money and a quick win.
And all that for absolutely nothing, since the horns, being made from the same substance as your finger nails don’t have any medicinal value at all. It’s a sad story for a beautiful animal which future is uncertain, due to the pressure on their environment and due to the strong myths regarding the medicinal value of rhino horn powder.
Let us do what we can to prevent a sad future. Let it not come to a point where their horns have to be removed on a yearly basis (they grow quite fast) to save them. I try do my part here by raising some tiny awareness, and there are great initiatives out there that do a lot more and which can use your support. Save the Rhino is one of them and The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is another one (more about them in one of my future posts).
As you can read, these matters get me going, yet for now I’ll leave it at this. Ending with a backlit picture, taken on the way out of Nairobi National Parc, a few weeks ago. The lesson learnt on this one is twofold: 1. do not be afraid to shoot into the sun and 2. keep your camera at hand, even when you think about calling it a day.
All the best and c-ya,
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