With only three weeks until the marathon the fear was beginning to set in. The training I have been doing is taking its toll, but it still doesn’t feel like enough. Anywhere near enough!
Just as I was beginning to question my own sanity I heard yet another story from DSWF, which instantly reminded why I signed up for this in the first place, why I am determined to see it through and why I wish I could do so much more…
On 2nd March 2012 three rhinos were attacked a Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa. Their horns were brutally hacked from their faces. Sadly one died that night. The remaining two, though horribly mutilated, miraculously survived and had been fighting for their lives. The bravery of the two gentle giants, whom the park rangers nicknamed Thandi and Themba, was unbelievable. Graeme Rushmere, co-owner of Kariega said, ‘This is a sad situation which has affected us all deeply. Right now we are focusing 100% of our efforts on trying to help the survivors, and to protect our remaining rhinos. This is no easy task and, we have immediately dehorned our other rhinos which we also find heartbreaking but this is a desperate measure to help try and stop this carnage everywhere.’ Despite their heroic efforts, Themba passed away last week, twenty four days after the horrific attack.
Dr Fowlds, the vet who has been fighting for their lives made this moving tribute:
What makes this brutality even more tragic is it’s utter futility.
Writing for the National Geographic Rhishja Cota-Larson (founder of Saving Rhino’s LLC) reported that: Rhino horn was recently analyzed extensively by Dr. Raj Amin at the Zoological Society of London. The tests confirmed that Rhino horn contains no medical properties.
“There is no evidence at all that any constituent of rhino horn has any medical property. Medically, it’s the same as if you were chewing your own nails,” says Dr. Amin.
Despite such scientific evidence to the contrary, the Guardian’s Esther Addley revealed that: “Powdered Rhino horn, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine… is valued as a remedy for everything from fevers and headaches to cancer, and demand is so intense that it has pushed the value of horn to £60,000 per kg – twice the value of gold.” This means that poaching syndicates are highly organised and heavily armed.
Until recently poached rhinos were rarely found alive. As the poachers either shoot them with high powered weapons which usually kill them or use a tranquilliser gun and darts to immobilise the rhino and then hack a large portion of the face and nose with a machete to ensure that every inch of the horn is obtained. The animal is then left to bleed to death.
Recently, Dr Fowlds has observed that “with the illegal supply of veterinary drugs now appearing to be drying up, we believe that poachers are usuing smaller quantities of these drugs with each darting, hence more rhinos are surviving the anaesthetics. Sadly, this also means that the depth of immobilisation is lighter, so poachers are hacking away at a semi-conscious animal trying to get away from the savage assault. If this is the case, game reserves will have to deal with an increased number of traumatised rhinos.” When this happens, all too often euthanasia is the only option.
Remarkably Thandi seems to be pulling through. Despite her brutal injuries she still has an innocent beauty:
DSWF has summed up The sad reality…
In the space of ten years, there has been a 7,400% increase in the number of rhino being poached for their horn in South Africa.
In 2011, the northern white rhino was declared extinct in the wild and no more Javan rhinos survive in Vietnam. There are only 44 left in Indonesia. The black rhino could soon follow.
Last year in South Africa alone more than 448 rhinos were gunned down by ruthless poachers paid by mafialike gangs capitalizing on the soaring price of rhino horn. In 2005, one rhino was slaughtered every 29 days – today South Africa is losing more than one a day. Rhinos are even being poached in some of the best-known and well protected parks including Kruger (South Africa), Masai Mara (Kenya) and Kaziranga (India).
The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation is trying to help in Ten key ways:
|1.) Support the brave men and women who make up our anti-poaching teams inIndia and Africa through the provision of equipment, training and salaries.
||6.) Work with the Metropolitan Police Wildlife Crime Unit to stamp out the illegal trade in wildlife parts, including rhino horn, in London.
|2.) Monitor highly endangered rhino populations and continue to gather valuable data.
||7.) Assist the judicial authorities in Assam to increase the conviction rate of poachers and smugglers.
|3.) Fund the very first anti-poachingdog in India’s state of Assam, a Belgian Malinois called Jorba, and his handler as part of a zero tolerance approach to illegal wildlife crime.
||8.) Provide additional funding forimproved security in South African national parks.
|4.) Work with local people in Namibia,South Africa and India to dispel misconceptions about rhino horn and encourage a more positive attitude towards rhinos.
||9.) Support undercover operations in Assam to track poachers and illegal for vulnerable rhino populations in Namibia.
|5.) Supportefforts to reform poachers giving them alternative sources of income in Assam
||10.) Provide special protection for vulnerable rhino populations in Namibia.
I am so grateful to everyone who has already been so generous. Please donate whatever you can even a few pounds will make a difference.
My fundraising page is <http//uk.virginmoneygiving.co.uk/GeorginaWeston>
Thank you for your support!