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Rhino slaughter quickens – extinction beckons

The harsh reality is that South Africans have become “all rhino-ed out”. They have been bombarded from all sides on a daily basis with the horrifying facts and figures of the daily bloodbath. Almost like a vicious rugby match score. And it is daily, and the body count is truly vicious.

Facts: At time of going to press, almost 1 000 rhino have been slaughtered this year. That is nearly three animals a day, every day. In a recent 12 day period (24 Oct. to 5 Nov.) 56 rhino were slaughtered in the Kruger National Park, with a further 61 animals butchered elsewhere in Mpumalanga. 117 rhino, just in Mpumalanga, in just 12 days, averages out at nearly 10 animals per day, every day. And these figures are real – as released by the Dept. of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

But, as far as the daily lives of South Africans are concerned, it is removed. The reality is distant, almost unreal. They do not have to deal with the stench of death, the blood or the rotting carcasses of magnificent animals wiped out just for their horns. They do not have to comfort a shocked and terrified rhino calf, bleeding from multiple panga wounds inflicted on it by jeering poachers – just “for fun” – as it refused to leave the side of its butchered, silent mother.

THG journo’s could tell more than a few stories that would leave readers gaping in shocked disbelief after a recent visit to the rhino-rescue folks at Care For Wild at an undisclosed location in Mpumalanga recently to see first-hand, the aftermath of the on-going genocide of a species. This journalist wishes that every South African could see and touch some of the sad and traumatised survivors. See for themselves how gentle and trusting these orphaned calves are.

Hear their sad, whistling calls – eerily similar to those of whales communicating in the deep oceans of the world – as they call out to each other.

Because, perhaps then, if the average citizen witnessed the carnage for themselves, just maybe, the conservation authorities would be “in with a shout” of stemming the tide of blood. Just maybe, Joe and Jane average would take up the cudgels and really fight our criminally inept and apathetic government who “convene panels of experts” and “consider the application of economic fundamentals to issues pertaining to the legal trade in rhino-horn products” instead of taking decisive action. Just maybe. But, given the horrifying apathy of the majority of South Africans, the reality is probably “just maybe not”. Until it’s too late. When the silence of extinction settles over the land, then there will be no more stories about rhino. Because there will be no rhino – ever again.

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