How Did the Rhino Lose its Horn?
I know how the rhino got his wrinkles. My mother told me. When Rhino was very small, he slipped into the kitchen and saw a big cake on the counter. He ate it but without good hands he got crumbs all over himself. Because the crumbs were all over him, he started to itch. He itched so much that he got wrinkly. So that puts that mystery to bed.
But how did the rhino lost his horn? No fairy tale here. Just a horrible story of greed. Men in countries that think the rhino’s big horn has magical properties, hire impoverished locals to butcher the rhinos and get their horns that now there are almost none left. It’s literally worth its weight in gold.
The horns are powdered and mixed into potions and elixirs that promise if not eternal youth, at least a sustained virility. The rhino horns do nothing. It’s just medieval quackery but the disappearance of this incredible specie is not a fiction.
The Danger to the Rhinos:
Often Endanger the Guards, too.
We first learned of the seriousness of this current problem when last year we stayed in a game reserve in the Western Cape. On the first day of our stay, the reserve heard that some Rhinos had been harmed in the neighboring areas quite close to them. This news made the guards and guides busy. They took turns to stay up at night to watch the rhinos. But with so many acres to watch, it is almost next to impossible to catch these poachers.
These rhino poachers use aggressive tactics to get hold of those horns. They are willing to kill. They know their trade well. They know how to go about it and just where to find the rhinos. They make vigils and are quite willing to return over and over again until they get their price.
To protect the rhinos, the game reserves color and poison the horns but these have not stopped the poachers. They make the horns x-ray detectable but definitely this has not stopped these aggressive poachers.
What’s being done?
Some strategies to stop rhino poaching.
The government and several non-government organizations are working hard to stop rhino poaching. They do training of patrols at game reserves, gather information, recruit and train informants and intelligence persons and educate the public.
They also have networks to share information, training and resources. They monitor and publish data around number of rhinos poached, number of poachers brought to rial and other information to move people to support the organizations stopping the poaching.