As a game ranger (field guide) I love driving through the open, yet dense bushveld biome in the Limpopo province of South Africa, but until recently it has become a warfare between man and gentile beast. From normal field guide taking long walks in the bush, I have become a soldier in conservation to fight the war against Rhino poachers.
Rhinos are being poached daily in South Africa to feed the market for medicinal use to countries worldwide. We stand in front of these syndicates on a daily basis and we fight this battle hoping we can win this war with its endless challenges. As soon as there is hope, we face new strategies and efforts by those who think it is a “get rich quick” scheme.
We stare down at a rhino calf whose mother has been shot by an AK-47 and hacked to death by merciless people who only take one piece of this mighty gentile giant. Frantically, this calf headbutts the cow (his mother), stomping the ground with fear in his eyes as this was the only refuge it had. The gruesome discovery of this cow with blood seeping through 23 holes in her body and the horn hacked off at the nerve to get that final inch, hits us with the reality that this was a job done within 30 minutes.
These guys come with a plan. They know the area well because they have scouted it thoroughly. They are well-kitted with the latest technology – automatic firearms and cellphones – and probably an insider who is very happy to correspond wilfully for his share. We find ourselves caught offside with ever-increasing tactics to outsmart each other and, honestly, it sometimes feels as if the battle might be lost. You only know how serious these syndicates are as soon as you find yourself in the midst of red lining bullets and shots fired in an effort to stop this encroachment. You should admire these tactics that are used, as I can admit, their blueprint is a masterpiece.
Rhino trade has become particularly increased in the eastern countries for its medicinal value. It is believed that this will enhance your sex and love life and they are willing to pay a good amount of money to get it. It is a market that is hungry and there is never enough.
According to the cities of South Africa, we have an estimated number of 18 800 white Rhino (Ceratotherium simum ), which is declining. White Rhino are being targeted more than black Rhino as the horns are dominant in mass front and back. These gentile giants are easy to find as they are big in mass and very docile in nature, which in turn make them an easy target to poachers. They will not run far when spooked and when a calf is with her cow the calf always runs in front. This will slow the animal down as the calf will get disorientated and naturally the cow will keep an eye on her calf. They make snorting sounds, point their ears and tuck their tail through their legs as soon as danger is imminent. This creates the alarm when threatened. They have very bad sight so with great stealth you are able to get close to this animal. All you need to do is use the elements wisely and be equipped with an automatic firearm.
South Africa alone has thousands of rhino horn locked up in private governmental storerooms which may not be sold. I firmly believe if the government opens these horns into trade, they will replenish the market of Rhino horn, which in turn will reduce poaching. Money sustained from this trade may well be put back into conservation to stop the poaching of these historic beasts we call gentile giants.