Welcome to Spotlight – here we highlight organizations doing invaluable work on the ground to support and protect endangered species. Our first featured organization is Rhino Rescue Project. RRP is doing groundbreaking work in rhino conservation and using some very new technology to help curb rhino poaching and hopefully save an iconic species.
Recently, Ranger Gareth Legg spoke with Lorinda Hern – one of the founding members of Rhino Rescue Project and a very special conservationist and friend to the rhinos and all animals great and small.
Could you share with Earth-Comix fans a little more about the work you’re doing?
We pioneered a rhino horn devaluation technique in 2010, where the horns of live animals are contaminated with liquid toxins and colouring agents in an attempt to make the animals less attractive targets to poachers.
Is the infusion dangerous for people to handle or use the horn for TCM “traditional Chinese medicine”?
Yes, most of the liquids in the infusion’s “cocktail” are generally not compounds we would advise humans to handle or consume, as it could have some nasty side effects.
How often does the treatment need to be done to make it an effective deterrent in rhino poaching?
A full horn growth cycle normally ranges between three to four years, so treatment would only have to be re-administered after that period has elapsed.
Does the treatment impact the growth of the horn?No, not at all. This was one of the reasons we opted to develop a treatment of this sort, rather than having to remove the horns altogether. We wanted the animals to be protected from poachers, but with their horns intact, as nature intended.
How can the Earth-Comix followers get involved and help with the amazing conservation work Rhino Rescue Project is doing?
Please spread the word far and wide about this workable interim solution to the poaching scourge, one that isn’t being given due consideration by relevant stakeholders at the moment. We have seen devaluation procedures yield amazing results in terms of deterring poachers – more should be done to roll out this method on a larger scale. So, visit our website, www.rhinorescueproject.org, or follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter and get involved.
Here are some images from the work of the Rhino Rescue Project:
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
This blog will shine a light on the people in our world who are doing essential, heartfelt work in the service of animal welfare, protection and conservation. As an organization, we’re brand new so until we have our first “official” featured organization, here’s a poem by the great Pablo Neruda.
by Pablo Neruda
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Before I traveled to Africa, I’d never heard of the painted dogs. Then again, I hadn’t heard of the “Big Five,” a designation of the most iconic African animals (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and cape buffalo) and the ones most visitors most wanted to see. (Actually, according to some, the Big Five were categorized by big game hunters as those animals most likely to charge, rather than retreat, when wounded — good for them, I say.) Anyway, clearly I had a lot to learn.
We arrived at our first safari lodge (the wonderful Idube Lodge adjacent to the Kruger National Park, in the Sabi Sand region) bleary-eyed and jet-lagged; we had just flown for 20+ hours to Jo’burg and had managed to grab only 5 hours of sleep over two nights. Nevertheless, we were not about to miss a moment in the bush so we set off that afternoon on our first safari ride, with Ranger Rob and Tracker Mark, to encounter whatever the bush universe saw fit to place in front of us. That first afternoon I was amazed to see lions, zebras, giraffes and hippos, all close up, going about their lives, all unperturbed by our awestruck presence. Then, as we were crossing a little river, Rob and Mark really got excited: “Painted dogs!” they exclaimed. “Now that’s something special.”
Painted dogs (genus Lycaon) are, according to our guides, the only African wolf. They are included in the “Big Seven,” which add cheetah and painted dog to the Big Five category. Mistaken for feral dogs, they have been persecuted by humans almost to extinction. According to many, on the whole continent there are only about 7000 left — due to habitat infringement, hunting and disease, the population continues to decrease.
Every endangered animal has its story. And for too many endangered creatures, their stories are tragedies. The plight of the painted dogs is emblematic of one of the problems that stressed populations face: the loss of genetic diversity. When the gene pool becomes too small, animals (even people) inbreed, which too frequently results in offspring who are genetically weak: vulnerable and prone to disease. This hastens extinction.
Without human intervention, these animals will perish. However, efforts are underway to help conserve these beautiful, exotic wolves — check out http://www.painteddog.org/.