The 22nd of September is when the world celebrates world rhino day Yet, how can we celebrate when we know what is befalling these iconic animals of Africa and Asia? Take a close look at this image, for this is all that remains of what was once a magnificent adult southern white rhino cow. All that is now left is her lower jaw that forms a record of the place and date where she was killed. And if this is not enough, her young calf also became an orphan!
She was savagely killed by high-calibre rifle bullets so that her killers could then hack off her two horns and circulate them into the dark passages of organized crime that in turn ensured that the horns reached their illicit market in the east that is fuelled by pure greed alone.
If we truly want to make a positive difference this World Rhino Day, we need to ensure that our governing authorities are held accountable for allowing the onslaught of wildlife and environmental crime to continue. Corruption and collusion from within these governance systems must be swiftly and severely dealt with and the judicial system needs to address its inadequacies of allowing weak or no sentencing of poachers.
As much as many people may not like the idea, there is also the need for highly effective law enforcement mechanisms to be put and held in place. Only through having this secure baseline can we protect the remaining rhino populations. Thereafter, impoverished communities from where many poachers originate from, need realistic prospects of inclusive economic benefits from the wildlife and natural economy. Through the exclusion of poverty and by ensuring inclusiveness and the creation of ownership, we will be able to put long term strategies in place to stop the slaughter of Africa’s iconic wildlife. Only when this happens can we celebrate World Rhino Day!