Critically Endangered & Vulnerable: Rhinos | Elephants
The poaching problem in Southern Africa is currently all over the news and social media. Worried animal rights activists, concerned park rangers, wildlife conservation organizations, celebrities and royalty are all shouting out to the world: STOP KILLING OUR ANIMALS – NOW!
Rhino horn sells for $30,000/pound (gold is worth only $22,000/pound). Ivory is worth $1,000/pound and is used in jewelry, trinkets, religious figurines, utensils, etc.
In South Africa alone 1,215 rhinos were killed by poachers in 2014. That’s one every eight hours! There are now only 3 Northern White Rhinos (subspecies of the White Rhino) left on this earth after Nola died in the San Diego Zoo last month. We’re still mourning her death.
If poaching continues like it is today, several animal species will be completely wiped out soon. Not tomorrow, not next year, but within our lifetime. This is unacceptable! It’s time for us to rise up and do something about it. Even if you don’t have money to donate, you can still help!
The Dodo has written an informative blog post about the pros and cons of various solutions against poaching, but only one is something that you can personally engage in and integrate in your everyday life – and that is Education, which takes us to our first solution.
1) Spread Awareness.
Poaching will disappear if demand stops. Impossible? Probably. But, if we can at least decrease the demand by spreading awareness, then we’ve helped a great deal.
In Vietnam alone, 90% of rhino horn is purchased. Peace Parks Foundation, Wilderness Foundation and Investec Rhino Lifeline launched a campaign to address this issue. Watch how Vietnamese youth were chosen to spend a few weeks in South Africa in order to work together to find effective solutions to spread awareness.
The impact of this experience on the young Vietnamese exceeded expectations. They left South Africa with new insights into the plight of the rhino and became passionate about protecting this iconic species. Even more significant, they started actively speaking out against the use of rhino horn in Vietnam. Also, watch an excerpt from an HTV9 interview of a few of these amazing teens.
The next step for the project will involve the development of a demand reduction media campaign to be implemented in Vietnam – possibly with the input and participation of the new young Vietnamese Rhino Ambassadors.
Why do people buy rhino horn and ivory?
Rhino horn cures cancer, hangovers, fever and impotence:
Rhino horn is made of keratin, just like your fingernail, meaning, it has absolutely no medicinal value.
Rhino horn is an aphrodisiac and party drug:
Really? Again, keratin is not an aphrodisiac nor gets you high. Period.
Rhino horn and ivory are status symbols:
Just like wearing fur, buying trinkets, jewelry or anything made of rhino horn or ivory is uncool. These animals are only butchered for their horns, tusks and/or skins, the rest of the animal is left to rot and their baby is orphaned. Park rangers trying to save their lives are also killed or seriously wounded. Is that cool? Of course not!
The Vatican did not sign the CITES agreement implemented in 1989 which means, they are immune to the ivory ban. Pope Francis is getting on board to fight ivory trafficking, so let’s pray he signs the agreement and puts his words into action.
How can you help spread awareness?
Shout out in Social Media
Target the largest supporters of poaching: the buyers! Asian countries, USA, the Philippines, the Vatican are large ivory markets. Use hashtags such as: #ivoryisuncool #rhinohornisnotmedicine #africanwildlifeconservation #savetherhinos #savetheelephants #stoppoaching, #stopkillingouranimals, etc.
Sign Petitions and Post about them
Join us in Tweetstorms
2) Shop Consciously.
Look at labels, ask local shops about the heritage of the products you buy and ask shop owners to stop selling endangered products.
And of course, never ever buy ivory, rhino horn, fur, nor eat meat from an endangered animal. This goes without saying though, right?
3) Travel Sustainably.
If you plan to travel to Africa, please do your research. Choose an ethical tour operator like Safari With Us to help you plan your trip with a good conscious.
While on a safari, please turn off your geotagging feature and do not reveal the location of where the photos were taken as this information may be detected by poachers.
If you want to be more active, think about volunteering at an African wildlife conservation facility. Please look at the list of the Good, Bad and Ugly first. Our friends at Campaign Against Canned Hunting also offer a self-funding volunteer program at the Karoo Wildlife Centre.
Want to travel sustainably?
While this post only addresses poaching for horn and tusks, there are many other African animals who are critically endangered.
We are very interested in hearing your opinion about poaching and if you have any other suggestions on how to help, please, don’t be shy, comment below.