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A devestating year for Rhino Conservation

31 December 2011, 08:25

As 2011 draws to a close, we reflect on the year that has been... 2011 has been a devastating year for the rhino population in our country.

The numbers are around 435 +. This is a staggering amount of the most incredibly majestic creatures, slaughtered to feed a ever increasing demand from Vietnam, China and Yemen.

Whether a National Park or a Private Reserve, the devastating effect of the rhino slaughter has been thrust at us with cruel reality. For the nature loving South Africans who prefer not to dwell on the harshnes of nature, even they have been assaulted with the reality of the cruelness and brutality of the rhino poaching. The images we have been exposed to have been gut-wrenching and one cannot ignore the reality of the situation. As parents, we wish to shelter our children from these images, but our children are non-plussed that there is such cruelty that we just dont seem to be able to control.

There has been much debate and many proposals on how we should stop the poaching. There is no simple solution to such a complex issue. There is much heated debate and each person has his own version of what will ultimately be the right approach. Each argument has its merit and what is really important is that there is a passion among the population to stop the poaching. How we do it is through a multi pronged approach. As long as we are not being counter productive, we are all working towards the same objective.

How much heated debate has raged about farming rhino, about legalising rhino horn trade, about concession hunting, about flooding the market with stockpiled horns, about dehorning the rhino and about poisoning the horns. As you read this I know you all have your favourite theory about each of these issues. We can debate the merits and de-merits of each of these and with all the best intention in the world we will never get consensus on the approach. Can we not agree to diasgree on the strategy, but lets agree that we are ALL intent on stopping the rhino poaching!!

Let us focus our funding and energy on the approach that we think is best... Let us all work towards assisting our rangers whether they are in private or National reserves. Let's support the legislators and law enforcers to ensure that poachers and carriers are prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed in law.

We should be level headed and logical in our requests for our Government to put political pressure on the countries where the demand for rhino horn is rocketing. We loose credibilty and respect when the demands we make are fuelled only by our passion and emotion. Lets keep those in control and stand together to request that our Governement follow the international laws they have agreed to. Calm and logical reason, backed by facts and due process will be far more effective that emotional rantings. The intentions of all the action groups and companies supporting the anti-poaching initiatives are correct and deserve to be taken seriously. This is an extremely serious matter. It is truly a sad state of affairs and must be seen as one of the darkest years in rhino conservation since Ian Player took up the fight to save the rhino.

Let us stand united against poaching and renew our efforts in 2012 with dignity and passion and lets all work together in whatever way we can to move forward and tackle this problem head on.

May 2012 bring us a swing of the pendulum in the direction of saving the rhinos.

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