Rhinos Without Borders

Arabella Worthington

20 Jan 2015

Rhino Conservation - The shocking statistics

I will start off with something shocking, not because I really want to but because I hope it will grab your attention and you’ll read on. Between me having lunch and hearing a lecture that same evening at the RGS, one rhino had been killed for its horn. One rhino is killed every SEVEN hours..

At the rate we are going, unless you get to Africa before 2021 you won’t be able to see these incredible creatures in the wild.

This is tragic.

Lots of organisations are doing everything they can to either reduce demand or reduce the killings. I went along to the RGS to learn more about ‘Rhinos Without Borders’ which is an initiative set up by two of our partners in Africa, Great Plains Conservation and &Beyond. Its goal is to relocate 100 rhinos from the high risk areas in South Africa to the relatively low risk country, Botswana. It is funded by both government departments and non-governmental agencies and stakeholders, as well as public donations. It currently needs to raise US$8 million for rhinos to have a good chance for our children and grandchildren to see these beautiful animals, as a lot of us have been lucky enough to do. The event featured two main speakers; Ralph Bousfield (one of Africa’s best guides and a good friend of mine) and Joss Kent (CEO of &Beyond).

Ralph started off evening with a talk about the history of conservation in Botswana, its geography and why it has such incredible wildlife. He explained that due to Botswana being the least corrupt and one of the most stable countries in Africa, it was the obvious choice for a rhino refuge and breeding. The fact that hunting has been banned also helps. Taking on this challenge however, it not that easy, stated Ralph.  It is forecast that the diamond mines which keep the economy going and are one of the very few natural resources that Botswana has, could be drained by 2016. This would leave the country in a vulnerable position and can the country afford to take care of these beloved rhinos? Or could having more rhinos boost tourism, which is the only other main source of income? He even dared answer the question…Should rhinos be protected at all? This stunned the audience but was important to state.

His point was that rhinos do not change or influence ecosystems and their extinction would not affect nature hugely, whereas you take away elephants and/or humans and the whole ecosystem is affected greatly. It was obvious that Ralph was just putting a spanner in the works with this argument and his argument in favour of protecting rhinos was much stronger. They are iconic creatures and it is simply not fair to let them die, as humans we don’t have the right. His fascinating talk set us up for the hard facts and gruesome video that Joss presented.

If you have a strong stomach you can watch some of the footage that Joss Kent showed us. Please don’t watch it whilst eating and do not show young children, it is not for the faint hearted. It is quite frankly, shocking, showing a rhino that had to be euthanized after poachers hacked off its face, but the need for us to be aware of what is going on, often takes shock tactics. Joss continued by saying that the rhino is in great threat of becoming extinct before the diamond mines run out of diamonds. i.e. within the next six years.

&Beyond have already successfully translocated six rhinos last year and their conservation team will lead the project. It is not without risk but is a necessity as the poaching around the South Africa/Mozambique border is rife and has now become a war as the military have had to take over. The problem is that poaching is funded and fuelled by influential people, armed drug cartels and corrupt countries. The demand for rhino horn is increasing, especially in Vietnam and Cambodia where they believe it is an aphrodisiac.  

Clearly, both Great Plains & &Beyond see this initiative as something that is within their power to take action on. They cannot change demand and/or influence Governments, but they are still doing what they can with the resources available to them. They run some of the best camps in Botswana and through that can help to fund conservation within the region. I am very lucky to have spent time in their camps, witnessed the incredible wildlife and seen rhino grazing in the Okavango.

Just by going to their camps means you are helping to conserve this incredible area. So far the project has raised enough money to fund ten rhinos, but there are still ninety left. Each rhino costs approximately £53,000 to relocate so they need help.

Should you wish to donate to this project there are a few ways:

  • Give a direct donation via their website 
  • If you would rather give a substantial amount, please do get in touch with us and we will put you directly in touch with Joss & his team.
  • Travel to Botswana and stay in their camps

If you would like any more information about rhino conservation, Botswana or anything related, please do let us know

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