I am again blogging for you from Africa among some of the most spectacular wildlife in the world. When I was in the bush, I was up close and personal with so many wild animals it took my breath away - one of them the rhino.
As you know, I am an animal rights activist and we have an agenda, one of which is educating our friends about abuse. So I hope you will forgive me for writing another blog on what I know to be true and what I think you need to know about wild animals. Five of the world’s diverse species of rhinoceros have been brought to the edge of extinction (and recently Africa’s western black rhino officially became extinct) because of humans' greedy thirst for their horns. The horns have been prized for tens of centuries for their distinctive appearance (when carved) and their alleged (see: false!) healing properties.
Instead of allowing rhinos to live, they are brutally poached to present as a sign of manhood for young boys in the Middle Eastern country of Yemen, as a part of the devotion to the Muslim religion in which they are used as weapons of protection.
In China, rhino horns have been used for eons, carved into ceremonial cups, as well as buttons, belt buckles, hairpins, and paperweights, and also used in traditional medicine. Countries such as Malaysia, South Korea, India and China kill the rhino, hoping they can cure a variety of illnesses. In traditional Chinese medicine, the horn is used to treat fever, rheumatism, gout, snakebites, hallucinations, typhoid, headaches, carbuncles, vomiting, food poisoning, and “devil possession," among other ailments of which there is no scientific proof they have any affect on. Of course, even if they did, would it be morally right to murder these magnificent beasts and push them to extinction? My vote is NO.
We need to demand stricter laws that protect the rhino and we are up against a lot of opposition.
Wildlife crime is a huge dangerous business. Run by mobs and ruthless international networks, wildlife and animal parts are trafficked much like illegal drugs and arms. And believe it or not, a good portion of it isn't even illegal! So what can we do? We need to lend our voice and financial support to train and deploy guards to protect the rhino and other wildlife.
Wildlife guards are ruled by the national governments, so we need to send letters/emails to those officials telling them we CARE. We need to show them that unless they take strong actions to combat poaching, we will no longer visit Africa and other countries that allow these atrocities to continue. This will speak to them where it counts, as eco-tourism is how many countries make their money. And the governments need to make it a severely punishable crime to be caught poaching. This works as a strong deterrent! Two poachers were sentenced recently to the longest prison terms to date in Thailand for a wildlife crime - one for four years and the other for five. No high-value poaching episode has occurred in the reserve since.
Please sign petitions, write letters, send donations to charities that work with local governments, and never buy exotic items since we all know the blood may be washed off, but the pain and suffering remains...