The year 2012 has already exceeded all past records in rhino poaching, with 570 rhinos killed this year alone (as of November) in South Africa, compared to 333 in 2010. The population has plummeted by 90% since the 1970s, with a rhino poached about every 16 hours.
Poachers have access to vast resources and are technologically advanced, even using helicopters to track and kill them. The investigative piece done by eTV’s 3rd Degree two weeks ago showed how all members of society could be involved, even game rangers themselves. The only solution would be to guard each and every rhino individually, which would cost a lot of money in training guards, setting up night vision, purchasing horses, maintaining specialized vehicles and a helicopter.
Project Rhino describes the situation: “When a country goes into battle they have massive war chests available to them, the war against poachers instead is reliant on an outraged public to get us our funding to take the battle directly to the poachers. We need to get serious and stay serious!”
Skintrade tattoos and “Space for Elephants” who are co-founders of “Project Rhino” have put together an initiative that will display the public’s concern and get people talking, as well as raise the funds necessary for the equipment. “Mark of the Rhino” is a permanent tattoo that will preferably be placed somewhere visible on your body, to get people talking.It will officially be launched this Saturday (1 December).
It is hoped that thousands of people will go through with this initiative, showing that rhino poaching is not an environmental problem but an EPIDEMIC.The Mark of the Rhino will be around 6-8 centimetres. It is a silhouetted, tribal-style tattoo of a rhino, designed to represent the black, white and even Sumatran rhino, and a unique code beneath it in roman numerals. The code will be individualised for every donor’s tattoo. Along with the tattoo, they will also receive a certificate with their name which will also be placed on the website next to their individual number. Their own names, company’s name, or a pseudonym can be used. Companies can also buy multiple “marks” and give them out to suppliers, staff members or customers.
Individuals can buy marks for family and friends and it is believed they will make great Christmas gifts: a gift that you can’t lose or break and that will make a difference in the war against poachers. The mark will cost donors R900 and take around 10 to 15 minutes to get done and will have a lifetime guarantee. It takes around a week to heal and does not require much aftercare.
The “mark” can be purchased at any Skintrade Tattoos’ shop.They are award winning artists and have done plenty of shows and tattoo conventions, including the BMX World Championships, international tattoo conventions in South Africa, and the Sexpo show, to name but a few.
They are located in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town, but they will also be doing roadshows around South and Southern Africa. They will be appearing at shopping malls, festivals, fairs and markets in many areas. Addresses for these shops can be found on the website www.skintrade.co.za and details of the roadshows will be posted there too.
It will be launched in the three main cities to start with and rolled out nationally, and then internationally. We have a number of celebrities that are already lining up to get their “mark” and a lot of the Project Rhino members will be at the launch getting theirs.
Project Rhino believes the war against rhino poachers can and will be won: “A militant stance towards the poachers themselves, driven and fueled by public funding and a trained, armed and adequately equipped crew dedicated to this very difficult task, will see the rhino population rebounding within the next few years, provided we ALL participate in the fight in one way or another.”
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