Compiled by Tracy Knox
As the war against rhino poaching intensifies, there are a number of fantastic initiatives, campaigns, and fund raising events and activities on the go around South Africa and internationally. Sourced from various websites, this feature gives you a glimpse into who is doing what and how you can get involved and support World Rhino Day and the ongoing fight to save our rhinos.
Let's stand together on World Rhino Day
Four of the five remaining species of rhino will become extinct in the wild in our lifetime if we do not take action to stop poaching and support rhino conservation.
On 22 September, people all over the world will gather for World Rhino Day 2012, a celebration of the five rhino species and an opportunity to raise awareness of the threats facing their survival.
One of the main aims of this year’s campaign is to wipe out the myths that fuel the demand for horn and the poaching of rhino. In particular, rhino horn has no medicinal value despite the long held belief to the contrary. Rhino are dying for nobody’s benefit except that of the criminals involved in the poaching rings.
South Africa, home to most of world’s rhinos, has been the epicentre of poaching. However, rhinos in other African and Asian range countries are also being targeted by poachers.
Despite increased law enforcement efforts, rhino poaching has accelerated in South Africa. By September 2012, the death toll has already reached 381, with the majority of South Africa’s rhino deaths occurring in the world-famous Kruger National Park. In 2011, the country lost 448 rhinos to poaching, including 19 critically endangered black rhinos, of which fewer than 5,000 remain in the wild. In 2010, 333 South African rhinos were killed by poachers, nearly three times the number killed in 2009.
South African law enforcement officials made 232 poaching-related arrests in 2011, compared to 165 the previous year. Sentences imposed for rhino crimes have also increased in recent years, with poachers and horn smugglers receiving as long as 16 years in prison.
The upsurge in rhino poaching has been tied to increased demand for rhino horn in Asia, particularly Vietnam, where it carries prestige as a luxury item, as a post-partying cleanser, and also as a purported cancer cure. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine experts, rhino horn has no proven cancer treating properties. Contrary to popular myth, it has never been used in traditional medicine as an aphrodisiac.
When you consider that 93% of the world’s white rhino live in South Africa and there are fewer than 5,000 black rhino left worldwide, South Africa is quite literally their last remaining stronghold. With both species under serious threat of extinction and time running out, failure is not an option because extinction is forever.
Run Rhino Run
Background to rhino poaching
In Africa we are currently seeing the methodical and calculated reduction of rhinos numbers in their natural habitat. The number of poached numbers has been escalating year-on-year over the past five years.
It is true that we have experienced severe poaching pressure before, and defeated it. However, today, because of the insanely inflated price being paid for rhino horn, the poachers are now employing a diversity of methods which no longer fall within the traditional poaching mould.
For conservation, this becomes a big challenge whilst at the same time an opportunity. The challenge is to find lasting solutions to the problem that will secure the future of rhinos. The public can also be a part of this and therefore it is an ideal opportunity for every South African to become involved in conservation and the preservation of their heritage.
Increased pressure has resulted in an increase in the number of arrests of poachers. However, this seems to have little impact. To really make a difference, those that are higher up in the poaching chain need to be nabbed, not just the so called ‘foot soldiers’ that they hire, of which there are an endless supply. More needs to be done to get these criminals into our courts, and WESSA would further like to see the judiciary fast-tracking court cases against suspected poachers who, if found guilty, should receive the harshest possible sentence, thus sending out a strong and loud message to potential poachers.
So what is driving increased rhino poaching in South Africa?
• The demand for rhino horn emanates from a few Asian countries (east and south east Asia). There are many apparent reasons for the need for rhino horn, but it is used mainly as an ingredient in traditional medicines and not as an aphrodisiac as is often widely reported. In more recent times it is being marketed to cure non-traditional conditions such as cancer.
• Rhino horn is valuable because of the simple economics of the situation – demand far exceeds supply.
• South Africa has the largest rhino population in the world of both white and black rhino. We have been seen as a more difficult environment within which poachers could operate. As the easier targets (i.e. other countries) have lost all their rhino, so the demand has shifted to South Africa. Crime of all types is rampant in this country and rhino poaching is an extension of this.
• Law enforcement relating to wildlife crime has certainly not received the requisite attention. While South Africa has commendable legislation, it unfortunately is not well enforced in terms of implementing the law, as well as achieving sentences that send out a strong message to would-be poachers. As a result of the rhino situation, we have seen positive progressive moves by government to improve systems and sentences. However, it will still be some time before we see the large scale benefits of this progress.
• The current economic crisis hit at a time when the incidences of rhino poaching were low. We have seen exponential increases in these incidences as the global recession gained momentum. One of the concerns is that private landowners (as well as public departments) may have cut back on security measures as a result of budget cuts. This would then expose increased opportunities for the criminals.
• Banked-rolled by substantial finances, the modern day poaching syndicates can now afford the latest technology and buy the services of skilled people and influential officials. Source:www.wessa.org.za
Rhino Horn Use
Fact vs. Fiction
All five of the world’s diverse species of rhinoceros have been brought to the edge of extinction because of human appetite for their distinctive horns. The horns have been prized for tens of centuries for their beautiful translucent color when carved, and their supposed healing properties.
In the Middle Eastern country of Yemen, the horn continues to be coveted by Muslim men, although imports were banned in 1982. The material, whose luster increases with age, is used for the handles of curved daggers called ‘jambiya’, which are presented to Yemeni boys at age 12. Jambiya are considered a sign of manhood and devotion to the Muslim religion, and are used for personal defense. Yemeni men place great value on the dagger handles, which are commonly studded with jewels. In China, the ornamental use of rhino horn dates back to at least the 7th century AD. Over the centuries, rhino horns have been carved into ceremonial cups, as well as buttons, belt buckles, hair pins, and paperweights.
Far more pervasive, however, is their use in the traditional medicine systems of many Asian countries, from Malaysia and South Korea to India and China, to cure a variety of ailments. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the horn, which is shaved or ground into a powder and dissolved in boiling water, is used to treat fever, rheumatism, gout, and other disorders. According to the 16th century Chinese pharmacist Li Shi Chen, the horn could also cure snakebites, hallucinations, typhoid, headaches, carbuncles, vomiting, food poisoning, and “devil possession.” (However, it is not, as commonly believed, prescribed as an aphrodisiac).
Historical mentions of other uses for the horns date back thousands of years. In Greek mythology, they were said to possess the ability to purify water.
The ancient Persians of the 5th century BC thought that vessels carved from the horn could be used to detect poisoned liquids, causing bubbles in the presence of some poisons - a belief that persisted into the 18th and 19th centuries among the royal courts of Europe.
Now, science is now stepping in to dispel some of the mystery and fiction surrounding the use of rhino horn. It is believed that there may be some truth behind the rhino horn’s ability to detect poisons which is linked to the composition of the horn. Rhino horns are composed largely of the protein keratin, also the chief component in hair, fingernails, and animal hooves. Many poisons are strongly alkaline (or basic), and may have reacted chemically with the keratin.
Unlike the horns of most animals, which have a bony core covered by a relatively thin layer of keratin, rhino horns are keratin all the way through - although the precise chemical composition of the keratin will vary depending on a rhino’s diet and geographic location. This fact has allowed ecologist Raj Amin of the Zoological Society of London and his colleagues to take ‘fingerprints’ of horn samples and determine the animal populations they came from, which has helped law enforcement officials target and crack down on poaching.
Rhino horns are not, as once believed, made simply from a clump of compressed or modified hair. Recent studies by researchers at Ohio University using computerized tomography (CT) scans, have shown that the horns are, in fact, similar in structure to horses’ hooves, turtle beaks, and cockatoo bills. The studies also revealed that the centers of the horns have dense mineral deposits of calcium and melanin - a finding that may explain the curve and sharp tip of the horns. The calcium would strengthen the horn while the melanin would protect the core from being degraded by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. As the softer outer portion was worn away over time by the sun and typical rhino activities (bashing horns with other animals, or rubbing it on the ground), the inner core would be sharpened into a point (much like a wooden pencil).
Overall there isn’t much evidence to support the plethora of claims about the healing properties of the horns. In 1990, researchers at Chinese University in Hong Kong found that large doses of rhino horn extract could slightly lower fever in rats (as could extracts from Saiga antelope and water buffalo horn), but the concentration of horn given by a traditional Chinese medicine specialist are many times lower than used in those experiments. In short, says Amin, you’d do just as well chewing on your fingernails.
Rhinos are being illegally slaughtered at the shocking rate of about 1.5 per day in South Africa. As at 11 September, the death toll has already reached 381, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs. Of this, 236 of the killings occurred in Kruger National Park, while the hardest hit provinces are Limpopo (43), the North West (40) and KwaZulu-Natal (34). The total number of arrests for rhino crimes remains at 199.
POACHING PER PROVINCE - Official Stats released by DEA on 13 September 2012
South Africa 2010 2011 2012
Kruger National Park (SANParks) 146 252 236
MNP (SANParks) 0 6 3
Gauteng 15 9 1
Limpopo 52 74 43
Mpumalanga 17 31 19
North West 57 21 40
Eastern Cape 4 11 3
Free State 3 4 0
KwaZulu-Natal 38 34 34
Western Cape 0 6 2
Northern Cape 1 0 0
TOTAL 333 448 381
It’s time to celebrate the five species of rhino on Saturday 22 September 2012: World Rhino Day. This year marks the third annual World Rhino Day, with a variety of events and celebrations planned throughout South African. Here is some of the World Rhino Day activities planned, which we encourage you to support in the fight against rhino poaching.
Durbanville Hills is presenting its first annual Race the Rhino Mountain Bike race, at van Gaalen MTB Track, Magaliesberg,
on 22 September. This race offers a short and long mountain biking route, entertainment, a playground for the kids, lunch and prize-giving. Rhinofields Durbanville Hill Wines will be on sale and there will be an ‘Auction’ area where visitors can purchase art, wine, rhino literature and much more – all in aid of our rhinos!
A portion of the proceeds of the Race the Rhino will go to the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and Renosterveld Trust. Renosterveld Trust works towards protecting the endangered habitat, the Renosterveld, today a mere 4% of it is left.
Entries close on 22 September at 08h00. For more information,
contact Heidi on or visit
To highlight the plight of the critically endangered African rhino, the One & Only, at the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town, has devoted the entire month of September to this worthy cause. On 22 September from 12h30 to 15h30, Galeo Saintz, will give a talk titled ‘On Foot through Rhino Heartland and Rhino Reality’, about his adventure as he and three other conservationists walked through the full extent of the heartland of black and white rhino in Zululand, and why they chose to track the thunder of rhino to raise awareness for this iconic species.
A three-course set menu, with wine pairings from Linton Park’s Rhino wines, will cost R230 per person. To reserve a table, email, . By taking part you will be supporting this worthy cause as R25 will be donated to save the rhino on behalf of each diner.
For more information, visit www.capetown.oneandonlyresorts.com
The Rhino Run is a trail running initiative being staged to help raise funds and awareness for the war on rhino poaching in South Africa. Trail runners are invited to take part in one of the five separate trail running events, located in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Gauteng, Durban and Mpumalanga, on 22 September 2012 - World Rhino Day. All the events will be run simultaneously, making this the biggest trail running event in the country, and also the first event of its kind.
There will be three separate trails to choose from, viz. a 5 km walk/run, a 10 km intermediate trail run, and an 18/20 km advanced trail run for the more adventurous runners. The Rhino Run is raising funds for two separate initiatives. The first is the Thandi Rhino Injection Fund, which treats and rehabilitate rhinos that are lucky enough to survive a poaching attempt. The second is the Endangered Wildlife Trust MyPlanet Rhino Fund, which provides financial assistance to a wide range of rhino related projects around the country.
For more information or to enter, visit www.rhinorun.co.za.
A World Rhino Day Walk will take place in George (Western Cape) on 22 September. Organised by Facebook groups Save Our Rhino and Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching, the walk starts at the top of York Street (Unity Park) at 15h00 and will end at the SARS building (the 'glass building') at around 16h30. Everyone is welcome and participants are encouraged to wear black or red.
For more information, contact Zak Edgar on 082 631 3225.
Support World Rhino Day with Linton Park Wines and Granny Mouse Country House & Spa on 22 September between 12h00 and 15h30 to a Linton Park Wine Fair in Granny Mouse's gardens (weather permitting). The seven wines making up the ‘Linton Park Rhino Range’ of wines will be paired and served with canapés.
Ten percent of the wine value and ten percent of the ticket price will be donated by Linton Park and Granny Mouse Country House respectively to the Save the Rhino Foundation.
Ticket prices are R150.00 per person and bookings can be made by contacting or visit www.midlands-country-house.co.za.
The Rocking For Rhinos Music Festival will be held on the weekend of World Rhino Day and Heritage Day at Franklyn Park in Hoedspruit, Limpopo. The event aims to raise funds for local anti-poaching teams Quemic, Pro Track and Plaaswag, and ultimately contribute to saving the rhinos.
The two-day event fuses conservation and entertainment together in one eye-opening experience. Overnight camping is available, and there will be crafts and numerous other stalls (food and drink included) situated on the grounds. The line up consists of South African musicians, artists, celebrities, conservationists and performers.
Ticket prices range from Early Bird – R350 (only 300 available) to Full Festival – R500. VIP tickets are R1,000 (only 50 available).
Check out the Rocking for Rhinos’ website, www.rockingforrhinos.co.za for more details.
The last of the Skydive for Rhinos events will take place from 21 to 23 September at Skydive Robertson, in the Western Cape, and is where you will see ordinary South African citizens and celebrities leap from 10,000 ft to raise funds for rhino anti-poaching work - and make a sky-high statement that South Africans want the decimation of one of our greatest national assets to stop.
Skydive for Rhinos is an African Conservation Trust (ACT) initiative that aims to raise
R10 million for on-the-ground, verifiable rhino conservation and anti-poaching efforts in South Africa. One hundred percent of the money raised will go to the ACT Rhino Fund, for training and equipping rhino anti-poaching units (APUs), for aerial surveillance and support, as well as community intervention programmes.
For more information, visit, www.skydive4rhinos.org
The Rhinoserious Concert for Conservation on 22 September sees WESSA Lowveld teaming up with Nelspruit’s Riverside Mall’s Rhinoserious campaign to raise funds to benefit anti-poaching efforts. The iconic South African group, Mango Groove, is set to rock Nelspruit along with opening acts like Jason Hartman, Belljar, and the Casterbridge Music Development Academy. An auction is also on the cards to take place after the concert, to bring the campaign to a close.
Tickets to the concert will be on sale at the Riverside Mall Customer Care desk and at Green Door in White River, at R120 per person and R60 for children under 12. Gates will open at 17h00, with the main act at 20h30.
For more information, visit www.riversidemall.co.za or www.wessa.org.za.
We are not alone in the war against rhino poaching, and here are some of the events that are taking place internationally to raise awareness or funds.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is holding a number of fundraising and awareness activities, including donation buckets at special keeper talks for visitors and Zoofari Lodge guests, a ‘palm-print rhino’ art work installation and more. Funds raised will be donated to the International Rhino Foundation.
The Laikipia Wildlife Forum has planned a ‘Save Our Rhinos Cycling Competition’.
Save the Rhino Trust plans to raise awareness with presentations, posters, and media announcements.
Partnership for Rhino Conservation (PARC) in Nepal is partnering with other organisations and communities in the Chitwan National Park buffer zone to raise awareness with posters, presentations, and more.
Auckland Zoo is celebrating rhinos with rhino chalk drawings, rhino hat giveaways, rhino activity sheets, a display of rhino food and enrichment, rhino encounters, and competitions.
Save the Rhino International is holding a ‘World Wino Day’ wine tasting event at Vivat Bacchus restaurant, London Bridge, from 17h00 to 19h00 on Saturday 22 September.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas, in conjunction with the International Rhino Keeper Association, has organised an awareness-raising event featuring keeper talks, activities and t-shirt sales to benefit rhino conservation.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
The Horns and Heroes Project is having an art show and auction in Orlando, Florida (USA) to benefit the International Rhino Foundation.
Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV) is planning to raise awareness online and via social networks.
The International Rhino Keeper Association (IRKA) has announced a membership drive that runs from 23 August to 20 September. Stay tuned to the IRKA Facebook page for more information.
A parade followed by an address by the Minister of Environment and various entertainment and music will take place at Africa Unity Square, in Harare. The event is organised by the National Parks of Zimbabwe, joined by Save Valley Conservancy, Tikki Hywood Foundation, Environment Africa, Imire Game Park, and RIFA.
Sources: www.thistourismweek.co.za, www.planetsave.com,
www.capetown.oneandonlyresorts.com, www.wessa.org.za, skydive4rhinos.org, midlands-country-house.co.za, www.renosterveldmtb.co.za, rhinorun.co.za
Show your Support
If you are looking for a way to support World Rhino Day, and the rhino plight in general, here are just a few of the great initiatives out there to consider.
Look the part
When you buy their rhino bands, key rings, stickers and candles, you’ll be helping Stop Rhino Poaching fund various initiatives. Funds and donations go directly to their on-the-ground projects and anti-poaching efforts.
For more information, visit www.stoprhinopoaching.com
Deck your car out
Show your support by purchasing a stylised plastic Rhinose™ that can be safely mounted with cable ties on the grille of your car, 4x4, or even your company’s delivery truck. Available at over 200 CNA stores countrywide, the Rhinose™ costs R30, of which 75% is guaranteed to go directly to assisting the Rhino Action Group Effort (Rage) and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) in their work to save rhinos.
For more information, visit www.rhinoseday.co.za
Drive with a conscience
If you’re thinking of purchasing a new car, seriously consider visiting Unitrans Motors as they will donate R500 for each Audi or Volkswagen vehicle sold by them to their Unite Against Poaching initiative. Funds raised supports the SANParks Honorary Rangers.
For more information, visit www.uniteagainstpoaching.co.za
Rhino bag it
Woolworths has launched its second rhino bag to highlight the fact that we’re losing one rhino every 20 hours. By buying the bag, you will be helping the Wildlife ACT Fund and WWF South Africa create new populations of critically endangered black rhino. R10 from the sale of each bag goes towards this initiative.
The rewarding way to shop
Link your Woolworths card to MyPlanet - or get a MyPlanet Card - and every time you swipe your card at Woolworths, they'll make a donation on your behalf.
To add the Endangered Wildlife Trust MyPlanet Rhino Fund as your beneficiary, of which you can have up to three, call MySchool on 0860 100 445. To apply for a MyPlanet card, visit www.woolworths.co.za.
Show your support by participating in Rhino Fridays by buying your EISH! rhino T-shirt and proudly wearing it every Friday. Corporate wear and caps are also available. Visit www.eishrhinos.co.za to see the range and place your order. R15 from every T-shirt goes to the Skydive for Rhinos campaign. We'd love to see every South African getting involved in Rhino Fridays!
Get your dog involved
Cameron Pet Foods is donating R2 from every bag of pet food sold to Project Rhino KZN, a group that aims to coordinate efforts across all organisations involved in the fight against rhino poaching. Supervet is also getting involved by supporting the Stop Rhino Poaching campaign, by donating R5 for every 20 kg bag of Supervet sold. So spoil poochie and know that you are also doing your bit for our rhinos, because without you, they won't make it!
For more information, visit www.projectrhinokzn.org and www.supervet.co.za
The Rhino Keepers Struggle for Survival by Clive and Anton Walker
This real life account of the rhino wars presents a harrowing story that underscores the enormous challenges that lie ahead for conservation in a world where rhino horns sold by the gram raise double the price of gold and are more expensive than cocaine in the end-user Asian markets.
This book is for anyone who has been appalled over the past few years at the senseless slaughter of these magnificent animals. It urges readers to question the way we manage our natural heritage and implores us to recognise our role as rhino keepers of the future.
A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Waterberg Museum Foundation’s Rhino Programme.
About the book
Few animals face as violent, as well organised, and as determined an enemy as the world’s rhinos. Across the continent, rhinos are being slaughtered on a daily basis and approximately 5,000 black rhinos and 21,000 white rhinos are all that prevent Africa’s rhinos from extinction.
The Rhino Keepers is a personal story of the conservation of the rhinos in southern Africa. It charts the ongoing struggle for survival of these amazing animals told through the experiences and insights of preeminent conservationists, Clive and Anton Walker.
Clive’s and Anton’s book describes these fascinating animals and the reason behind their historical decline, the myths that surround them and discusses the resurrection of the rhino horn trade. They carefully unpack the complications of opening up a ‘legal’ trade in horn and the views of those who oppose such measures.
• Another recently published book that tackles the issue of rhino poaching is The Last Rhinos by Lawrence Anthony, which tells the story of a Zululand reserve’s battle to save their rhinos (R195 Pan Macmillan).
• Higgins & Lady by Pieter de Jager is a personal account of a rhino owner’s fight to keep his rhinos alive after their horns were poached. The book and DVD costs R150 and can be ordered from .