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Rhinos are facing an escalating poaching crisis at the moment and unless something dramatic is done to protect them they will go extinct in the wild. There is no one silver single bullet that helps rhino conservation, what is needed is a wide range of activities. One of these activities is the dehorning of rhinos.
Rhinos have no feeling in their horns, so when they get dehorned by a trained vet, they feel no pain what so ever. The horn gets sawn of about 2 inches from the skin. It is like cutting your nails. Unfortunately, when poachers (illegal hunters) dehorn Rhinos, they cut deep into the flesh of the rhino to get as much horn as possible. This is extremely painful for the animal if it is still alive. In most cases, the rhino is not shot dead but only wounded. They suffer immense pain. You can imagine what it should feel like if someone cuts into your face with a chain saw… A dehorned Rhino has a much better chance at survival and the horn grows back within three years.
Two Rhinos were poached in the area which forced a neighboring farm to dehorn all their rhinos. A team of about 20 people dehorned 4 Rhino cows. A representative of Nature Conservation must be present at all times to ensure that all permits are in place. It takes about 7 minutes for a Rhino to go down after it has been darted and about 15 minutes to dehorn it. At the same time Vets injects them with vitamins. Blood samples are also taken for tests and the condition of each rhino is investigated. A Microchip is then placed in the remaining part of the horn.
When this baby rhino’s mother went down after being darted, it immediately climbed on top of its mother, as if it wanted to protect her. The team had their work cut out to get it away from its mother so that they could start working on her. The calf never moved more than 20 meters away and kept making calling sounds towards its mother. It can be compared to the sounds dolphins make. It is a very unique sound. The calf was very restless throughout the 15 minutes that mum was down. It also charged the team a couple of times. It was however not long before mum was back on her feet and rejoined her calf as they walked back into the bush.
Rhino poaching is a huge problem in South Africa. Farmers are literarily spending millions of rand for security and protection of the remaining Rhinos. At the moment they are losing the war, but they will continue to fight against Rhino Poaching.
A trophy to a hunter doesn’t just mean a head on a wall. There is a misconception that hunting is only to the benefit of the hunter. What is often ignored is the fact that for each trophy that is hunted, there is a direct influence on the community.
A trophy never gets wasted. It is usually taken to be skinned so that all parts of the animal can be put to use.
Providing meat to communities and others
According to Stats Africa, Africa comprises out of 75% of the world’s poorest countries. Many things that others take for granted, Africans see as a luxury – even basic necessities, such as clean running water, electricity, and sanitary can in some communities be seen as luxury. Providing much-needed food for those communities are an integral part of community service. Most farms make sure that their own workers and the workers family gets enough meat. The meat is not only used to feed the workers on the farm, but is very often donated to less fortunate communities. The game meat of the trophy can also be made into patties, mince, sausage, fillets and stews. South African delicacies, such as biltong (dried meat), dry sausages and chilli bites, are also made and much enjoyed.
In South Africa, we do take conservation seriously. Most people working within the hunting industry loves nature – that’s why they choose to be professional hunters. In order to be a good professional hunter you need to be able to sense what goes on around you in nature and have knowledge about animals, their habitat and behavior. They need to have knowledge about plants, bushes and trees and that you only get through appreciating nature and putting in extra time and effort into learning about nature.
Profits of hunting
Hunting is a profitable business, as money needs to be made in order to provide the necessary infrastructure, water provision and sometimes vet services in order to look after the animals. There has also been quite a few community projects, as can be seen when you look at PHASA’s “Hunters Care” Activities. Two examples of community projects that have been funded by hunting, is the Wild Hearts Rehabilitation Centre, as well as the Wintershoek Pre-Primary School.
Wild Hearts Rehabilitation Centre
The Wild Hearts Rehabilitation Centre focus on the rehabilitation of injured or orphaned animals and re-introduce them back into their native habitat. Animals that would have died if left out into the wild are given a second chance at life.
Wintershoek Pre-Primary School
This school gives the local children an opportunity to go to a school that can prepare them before entering the primary school years. It has a qualified teacher that focus on their educational, emotional and social development. The school is open to all children in the vicinity and is specifically targeted at parents who do not have the financial capability to send their children elsewhere. The school is for free and provides two nourishing meals a day for the children attending.