Save the Rhino
Lion Roars is heart-and-soul behind the many initiatives currently hard at work to protect the horrifically threatened Rhino populations in Southern Africa.
In 2008, before the crisis of poaching hit such terrible proportions, we engaged in the battle to increase Rhino populations by embarking on a personal conservation journey: we bought two Black Rhino from National Parks, and embarked on an ambitious breeding programme to add to the world's Black Rhino population.
In 2010, we were sadly pulled right into the middle of the Southern African poaching crisis, when our two beautiful adult white rhinos were brutally slaughtered for their horns. The account below by a student on the Ulovane Ranger training school on the reserve is a heartbreaking record of the events:
Enough is enough
The first time you see a wild adult rhino you cannot but help feel complete awe at this magnificent creation of nature. The first time you see a baby rhino your heart melts and you look forward to watching its wondrous life evolve.
When Isipho came into our lives on Amakhala he was a complete surprise (hence his name which means “Gift”). Female rhinos are generally on the large side, so to tell visually that they are pregnant is a bit tricky. He was a typical rhino baby, inquisitive, but with a very protective mother, he always had to keep his distance, even though his happy feet always wanted to run and come take a closer look at this strange green giant before him (the land rover). As time went on our relationship with them grew stronger and she allowed us to come closer and closer. Over the next three years we saw this handsome young boy start to show the signs of one day becoming a magnificent dominant male.
When his mother gave birth again the inevitable happened and he was pushed away by his mother, her priority now being the younger of her two calves. It was a heartbreaking scene to watch Isipho being pushed away by the guardian that had protected him so well for the last 3 years, but this is nature, cruel and kind. Our main worry was our dominant male, fondly known as Chippy: he himself had battled long and hard for his position. Maybe he would not take kindly to a little competition. But things over the next few months went well.
Sometime earlier this week, poachers came to our reserve. They hunted down our two beautiful boys, murdered them and hacked off their horns. We as a reserve are completely devastated that these people have taken two members of our family. And for what? Some say their horns have medicinal uses. I say these horns belong to the rhinos and no one else and it is time to say enough is enough. Africa needs to wake up and realise people don’t come here to see our fancy cars and houses. They come here to see one of the most spectacular arrays of animals the world has to offer. We are lucky enough to live in this beautiful land. We have a duty to protect all that lives here. This is a war and it is a war that we the conservationists are currently fighting alone. We need the help of all who read this and many more. We have to draw attention to the plight of all the animals that are being butchered in Africa on a daily basis.
We are always told that we shouldn’t humanize our animals because of course they are wild animals. But I say to Isipho and Chippy we shall miss you. You enriched our lives as we watched your battles and your struggles just to find your place in the hierarchy of it all. Both your lives were ended long before they had really even begun. The guilt we feel that these people were able to get to you and take you from us is unbearable. We know these cruel and uncaring slayers will continue to take your kind. But we shall do everything within our power to stop them. We are ready to fight and ensure that your species will not be just a photo in a book.
Currently a rhino is poached every 30hrs in South Africa. Females give birth roughly every 3 years. What chance do they have? Please help us!
Ulovane Environmental Training (www.ulovane.co.za)
We've had a tough journey since our boys were slaughtered, many of us wondering how we can hope to win in an unevenly funded battle of supply and demand. No matter what resources we can scrape together to provide extra patrols, no matter how many extra hours our team pull, working longer and harder than ever before, the money in this racket is a direct result of high demand. We've all had our moments of feeling overwhelmed by the task. But in this, as in all things, the only thing to do is to keep on keeping on. We may not always feel that we're winning, but we're fighting on the right side. And the more awareness we can create, the more people out there that share our outrage, our sadness, the greater chance we have of shifting the global tide of emotion and ending the demand. So every morning we get up and keep on fighting. Not only for the future, but also for the past, for the memory of our beautiful boys, Isipho and Chippy.