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There is a movement quickly gaining momentum at present. While rooted in the East, in Buddhist philosophy, it is rearing its head (or mind) more and more in the West – in our yoga studios, offices, high schools, prisons… Its name is Mindfulness. The creation of a mindful society can only be a good thing – imagine a world run on compassion rather than competition. Consideration of others and awareness are central. A greater awareness of not only our thoughts, actions and values, but of our interconnectedness as humans with the rest of the planet.
On World Rhino Day, this movement is especially significant – serving as a reminder that Homo sapiens are not separate from the other life forms we share earth with. This World Rhino Day, Wildlife ACT are focusing on the importance of instilling a love of wildlife and nature in our youth and in increasing their awareness of the state of our rhinos.
This year the world will hear the voices of the youth as they speak out against rhino poaching at the World Youth Rhino Summit, held at KwaZulu Natal’s iMfolozi Game Reserve, from 21-23 September 2014.
Wildlife ACT is a non-profit group of on-the-ground conservationists, dedicated to saving Africa’s endangered and threatened species from extinction. We have been supporting them for many years and were happy to have been able to commit half a million rand towards the Wildlife ACT Fund this year alone, to help sponsor collars, tracking equipment, vehicles and field staff salaries.
We met up with Christie Morgan and Dr Simon Morgan from Wildlife ACT to find out more about what they have been up to regarding all things rhinos. Take a look at our infographic [open in new window to view full screen] and read our special Simon Says below.
“It is hard working in the conservation world and really being able to see a positive light at the end of the dark, gloomy and, for many of the people working on the front lines, treacherous tunnel. There seem to be so many dark stories, what with poachers being found with grenades to booby trap rhino carcasses and young rhino calves found with machete wounds, it is hard sometimes to think of rational and reasonable ways forward. This is why the public are forever baying for blood and wanting poachers strung out to dry. However that is not where our real problems lie. There will always be poor people who can be coerced and bribed with large sums of money to do dreadful things, but what is the driving force behind this? Who are the entities willing to pay the money for this bribery, corruption and death?
People are quick to jump at it and point fingers at the end-users – and bay for their blood or sanctions against their countries. But have we stopped to understand who is using rhino horn and ivory products and whether they have an inkling of what is happening here in Africa? Do they know that in Africa rhino are being tranquilised and having their horns cut off and left to bleed to death or that more than 80 poachers were shot and killed in the Kruger park alone since the beginning of 2013… I don’t think so.
I think the only ones who have the full picture is a small group of greedy, powerful, rich middle-men who are orchestrating this whole thing. They are feeding lies to both ends of the scale – poor poachers with the allure of money and end-users with the allure of status and well-being. Keeping them both in the dark about how much they are benefiting from this immensely profitable and relatively risk-free supply-chain they have created. They feed the demand with false-information and clever word-of-mouth marketing skills, backed by influential people with money and power. We can fight this.
We need to show people from the poor, rural poaching communities the greater truth about the number of their family members which have been killed or jailed and how they are being coerced into supporting and making powerful a small group of middle-men with theirs and their families lives. We need to redevelop that emotional connection and revere that the people from Africa had for their wildlife.
We need to show people who are using rhino horn as a status symbol or ivory trinkets as business gifts the truth behind where these products come from – that not only animals, but people are being slaughtered weekly for these products. That the status they are wanting to achieve is currently at risk in the rest of the worlds eyes and potentially to their peers when they discover the truth. We need to let these people know that they have an amazing opportunity and the power to turn the tide on one of the most appalling scenes occurring throughout Africa, elevating their own status to ones of protectors and saviours. We need to let them know that they are being swindled into thinking that these animal products which they so valuably prize are worth even a fraction of the amount they are paying for them and that a small, few, greedy group are gaining from this profiteering and making a fool out of them.
Perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but I think we need to make sure that we are shining that light on the right group of people. We have to show people on both ends of the scale the truth and show them the bigger picture. They need the information so that they can start making informed decisions and realise the consequence of their actions and how they could flip the switch and gain from this opportunity – we just need to present it to them.”
Keen to find out more about all things rhino? Dig in to these debates…
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Tamlin has been exploring, writing about and photographing Africa ever since her first job as a photojournalist for Getaway Magazine. She's lived on an island, eaten with lions, sailed catamarans in the Indian Ocean, tracked wild dogs with Kinglsey Holgate, and white water rafted down the Zambezi and has kept just about every airplane ticket that has crossed her hands.
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Surely the conservation of rhinos should be one of our biggest priorities as mankind. Booking safari packages and visiting Africa where these beautiful and endangered animals is one of the best ways to help conserve. Poachers thrive where animals are forgotten in isolation
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