Friends & Friction: Don’t listen to the rhino brigade

I remember a beautiful, blackish-brown horse in our township that faithfully drew a load of coal every day. I always imagined that if it were human, it would wear a Stetson hat like a gentleman.

It was hit by a black Dodge Monaco one night, and both horse and driver died. The horse was slaughtered by hordes of residents, the meat finished in no time, with all that remained a rib cage.

In our neighbourhood, Highlands, there was ­also a crippled horse that limped badly, and packs of dogs always harassed her. Her diet was mostly highveld grass, but from time to time you’d see her rummaging through the dump, chewing some of our leftover peels. She bore a beautiful foal that always stood by her, and gave her a higher purpose now that she could no longer pull a coal cart.

One day, I heard that white policemen had shot the horse, which everyone thought was cruelty of the worst kind. She had never troubled anyone and, if humans are anything to go by, it is better to limp on Earth than be an able-bodied spirit in Heaven.

The killing of that horse and the arrest of a short little man with a hunchback, coincidentally in the same open space where the horse was killed, were the incidents that wrote in my childhood mind that human cruelty knew no bounds.

It was a lunch break, and I saw the little black man running from the police, his small blazer ­revealing a white shirt, his beanie in his right hand – greatly disadvantaged by his abnormally short strides.

The whole incident was unfair: A big, bad Bedford belching a noise of death came after him with a big policeman standing on the step of the open rear door.

He jumped off while the lorry was still in motion. It took only two strides, maybe three, and that was it; the little guy was under his vice.

That’s the problem animal rights activists will always face. Their cause will always be eclipsed by some bigger human cause, but you cannot claim to speak for the wretched of the earth when you cannot speak for a species that cannot speak for itself.

The relationship between humans and animals, and the whole Earth and its contents, will always be a difficult one because it is based on economic exploitation. We get our nourishment from other living things, whether be they plants or animals, and some men get their performance from that too.

Who is to say they are wrong?

If you look carefully, you will realise our relationship with nature and the laws that govern ­conservation are a sum of all our relationships with each other as human beings, complete with our pride and prejudices.

It is perfectly okay for a Westerner to have a steak when he is on honeymoon, but wrong for an ­Easterner to benefit from rhino horn.

South Africa would be best served if we didn’t get involved in this cultural warfare, which is hypocritical, unscientific and sentimental. Our country must quickly develop a viable and sustainable ­rhino horn industry that will help grow our ­economy and create employment.

Don’t listen to “Save the Rhino” organisations, because most are nothing but parasitic marketing groups that live in a symbiotic relationship with ignoble corporations prepared to pay a small fee to green-launder their questionable cash. They have the energy to fight, thanks to their full ­stomachs and Viagra.

We are the sons and daughters of the soil; we know all about living with animals. Our country has one of the best wildlife management systems in the world, if not the best. Let us profit from it, so that, just like the cow, the rhino can live forever.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency
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