The sickening attack on the Fundimvelo Rhino Orphanage at Thula Thula in South Africa in recent weeks, (see our earlier report on the work of the orphanage) and the worrying escalation of violation in poaching incidents this latest episode suggests, together with the shocking poaching incident in a French zoo in the last few days, has spurred us to do a post setting out some of the simple things people can do in response to help fight the war on poaching.
We hope it might help counter the sense of powerlessness at such terrible news and answer that immediate ‘what can we do?’ question that’s prompted by such events.
Make more noise
Award-winning South African film-maker Bonné de Bod, who is currently making a documentary feature on the poaching crisis, has encouraged South Africans to continually make their views known, by going on social media, tweeting and using old-school snail mail to lobby the SA government, key policy-makers and other interested parties.
Being active on social media doesn’t seem like much of a response when the news is bad, but it’s vitally important to keep the awareness levels raised and pressure applied on this subject. With what’s believed to be the very first slaughter of a white rhino for its horn in Europe comes the stark realisation that this really is a problem on everyone’s doorstep. Adding your voice to the many out there will and does help. The more noise the public makes the more it becomes imperative for those responsible for dealing with this vile crime to act.
A little international pressure might not go amiss – especially given the huge importance wildlife tourism has to the struggling South African economy.
Bonné suggested South Africans who felt strongly on rhino poaching should write directly to the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, at Environment House, 473 Steve Biko, Arcadia, Pretoria 0083, South Africa.
Wouldn’t it be great if the rest of the world weighed heavily in that postbag too? You could always drop a line to the environment minister, local member of parliament or relevant government representative in your own country at the same time.
Follow a favourite rhino charity
With so many rhino charities around these days – well over 200 at one count – we understand it’s difficult to know who to donate the odd spare cash to or even do some serious fundraising for. Sadly, but perhaps not unpredictably, there have been people trying to cash in on the crisis so you need to exercise common sense before you jump on board.
But don’t let this deter you. Tackling the poaching crisis, and keeping rhinos safe, is an extremely costly business. Even small amounts are appreciated. Many front line anti-poaching rangers still lack some of the basic supplies and equipment they need.
UK-based rhino charity Save the Rhino International suggests a donation of as little as £3 can help pay for a first-aid kit for a ranger, for example. A donation of £10 could go towards a rhino’s veterinary treatment, while £25 might cover the monthly salary of an environmental education teacher. Along with many of the other major rhino charities the organisation has lots of ideas (and support) for fundraising on its website and you can even specify which of their projects you’d like your cash to support.
To help you donate wisely here’s a list of some of the key rhino charities you might consider. These each support a variety of conservation programmes and anti-poaching projects on the ground and should also help keep you abreast of progress and developments. The first three tend to put their emphasis on rhino conservation and anti-poaching in the field. The last organisation on the list works more on the prevention of illegal wildlife trafficking and at the consumer end of the problem. It’s up to you check which appeals to you and feels the right fit.
International Rhino Federation (IRF) US-based
Save the Rhino International (SRI) UK-based
The Tusk Trust (TUSK) UK-based
Other charities, currently with a focus on rhino conservation, in southern Africa that we have some working knowledge of via our reports for Project African Rhino include:
Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) (based in Namibia and working with the desert-adapted rhinos there)
Project Rhino KZN (this group is based in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province which has been hard hit by the poaching)
You may prefer to directly help one or two of the smaller bodies that target their efforts on specific aspects of the crisis, like the Thula Thula orphanage, on the basis they don’t have the fund-raising reach of some the bigger rhino charities and you’d like to directly support the sort of work these smaller groups do.
Support Wildlife Photographers United
We’d also, while there’s still a few days left, like to put in a small plug for the ‘Remembering Rhinos’ campaign which we’re proud to be supporting. Sequel to last year’s successful ‘Remembering Elephants’ project, this Kickstarter campaign, which runs for just another day or so, is raising funds towards a beautiful coffee table photography book on rhinos for publication later this year packed with images donated by some of the world’s top wildlife photographers (and us).
Launched a few short weeks ago the campaign has already raised more than £93,000 for the Born Free Foundation’s rhino conservation work on the ground. In exchange for ‘doing your bit’ for rhinos you’ll receive a captivating hard-bound book celebrating these creatures.
Go to bat for rhinos
Harnessing today’s powerful celebrity culture is also a great way to build awareness of the poaching problem. If you’re on Twitter, world-renowned cricketers Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) and Mark Boucher (@markb46) have taken up the cause for rhinos. Film-maker Bonné de Bod suggested they’ll retweet (or reply) if you come in to bowl for the anti-poaching campaign.
And finally… see rhinos in the wild
Eco-tourism is incredibly vital in building support for rhino conservation. Going on safari remains one of the best ways to help. Without tourism significant rangeland for rhinos would cease to exist. State game parks and private reserves alike need tourist dollars to help meet some of the additional daily costs incurred fighting poaching. So go wonder at a rhino in the wild while you can…