Yesterday we went to Kruger National Park and I was stunned by not only the beauty of the landscape and all the animals that we saw, but also by what we didn’t see. By that I mean the rhinoceros.
I never really knew how endangered rhinoceroses were. There was a sign at one of the rest stops where people could see where the “Big 5” (elephant, leopard, lion, buffalo, rhinoceros) animals had been spotted that day and the day before. On that sign, under the rhino it said that sightings are no longer allowed to be posted in order to keep the animal safe. It’s so strange to think that poachers might come to this park pretending to be tourists so they can figure out where the rhinos are and go hunt them. There was also an advertisement at the restaurant at the rest stop asking people to buy a ‘Slush Puppie’ drink because part of the profits go towards saving rhinos. I saw both of those signs early on and they kind of stuck out at me, but I didn’t really think too much about them until the end of the day when we had found over forty elephants, half a dozen giraffes, four lions, and more buffalo than we could count. But no rhino.
And then today on the plane I read a few articles about the rapid disappearance of the Black Rhino in South Africa and what efforts are being made to hunt down poachers. I guess all this just hit me within the last few days about how big of a problem this is in this country (423 rhinos have been poached so far this year). I’m just happy that police are working with scientists to track all the rhinos in South Africa, and therefore track the poachers because it’s really showing that this country cares about the conservation of this species.
If you want more information and/or want to donate to the anti-poaching cause, visit http://www.uniteagainstpoaching.co.za/ (WARNING: some graphic images on this site) and http://www.givengain.com/cgi-bin/giga.cgi?cmd=cause_dir_membership&id=814&cause_id=2552 (R 20 is about $2)