Tonight as you watch the full moon I want to share with you a fact that not all of us are familiar with. The full moon is the night that the most rhino poaching occurs, thus the “poachers moon.” The rhinos are the most vulnerable on a full moon because poachers are able to track and kill them with greater ease, due to the increased visibility. Since May 28th there have been 419 rhinos poached. Rhinos are estimated to be poached at a rate of one every 8 hours. Sometimes when I am looking through my photos of the rhinos I worked with in South Africa I wonder how many of them are still alive?
As I have mentioned before, the poaching market is driven by the demand for rhino horn in Asian countries such as China and Vietnam. In these countries the rhino horn is used medicinally or as a sign of wealth. The price of the horn reward for the poachers creates enough incentive for them to ignore the possible consequences of their actions and continue to hunt down and kill rhinos.
However, the fate of the rhino is not doomed, because there are people around the world putting forth their time and effort in order to make a difference and ensure the survival of this species. There are veterinarians who are working to cast the sinuses of rhinos affected by poaching, a team of reproductive physiologists and veterinarians just successfully produced an Indian Rhino born from Artificial insemination, more arrests are being made and sentences carried out for convicted poachers, just today I saw a release from SANParks that a member of their team was suspended and is being investigated on grounds of suspicion of rhino poaching related activities. These are all incredible advances in the face of poaching.
*Click link for the cuteness
However just like there is no single answer to combat the current poaching crisis, there is no single answer to saving the species. It is a combined effort and you too can play your part by visiting http://www.savetherhino.org to find ways to get involved! I don’t claim to have all the answers or information, but I encourage you to check out the resources available on the save the rhino website!
Tonight as I drove around Fossil Rim, I stopped to look at the rhinos, with their incredible horns, relaxing together, oblivious that this is not a pleasure all rhinos are afforded. I felt lucky, to spend another day working at a place with people who strive everyday to make a difference in conservation. Although, we can never look up at the moon with the same innocent pleasure that we used to, I hope that we can help educate and spread awareness about the war taking place thousands of miles away.