Here at Sophie’s World we’re passionate about animal welfare. It’s perhaps genetic: apart from the family and very close friends, our mum/grandmum generally preferred animals to people. The rest of us aren’t quite that extreme, at least not yet. Alexandra is a vegetarian solely for animal welfare reasons, none of us use cosmetics from companies that still insist on animal testing (banned here in Europe, I’m happy to say), we don’t wear fur, we support Romanian dog shelters, and, not least, we have a highly valued family member who once lived on the street of Galati in Romania. (More about Sjangs and other Romanian rescue dogs in a later post.)
Today, however, is all about wildlife in Africa, specifically rhinos. We’re going to tell you about a wonderful opportunity to help protect a rhinoceros – #JustOneRhino. And to further entice, there are prizes to be won: tours and hotel stays in 11 countries on 5 continents!
The magnificent creatures look hardy, and in a way they are. They’ve survived for thousands and thousands of years. But they can’t withstand human cruelty. Horrendous numbers of rhinos are murdered every year, for their horn.
One rhino is killed every 7 hours. In South Africa alone.
Rhino poaching is on the increase and if we don’t act, they could very well become extinct within the next few decades. According to the South African Ministry of Environmental Affairs, as of 20 November 2014, 1020 rhinos were killed by poachers that year (up from 946 in 2013, and 633 in 2012.) That’s more than 3 rhinos slaughtered every day. One every seven hours. The good news is that 344 arrests were made for rhino poaching in the same period.
One may wonder why anyone would engage in this reprehensible – and dangerous – business. (Just two days ago, two poachers were killed in Kruger National Park after a shoot-out with rangers.) The answer is all too easy: rhino horns are in great demand. Seems silly, considering that the horn consists of keratin. Like our nails. But it’s no laughing matter: rhino horn can cost as much as USD 65000 pr. kg.
Powdered rhino horn was used in traditional Chinese medicine for nearly 2000 years, particularly for fevers (not for virility, as is commonly thought). The sale of rhino horn became illegal when China signed the CITES treaty more than 20 years ago; however, with decreasing government control, it becomes more difficult to control the illegal trade.
But China is not the only perpetrator here. In fact, the largest ‘importer’ of rhino horn today is Vietnam. The business is banned there as well, but there’s a brisk illegal trade going on. One reason is the common superstition that it cures cancer. Cancer has risen dramatically in Vietnam, and treatment is not easily available. (According to IAEA, the country has less than 1 radiation therapy machine pr. 1 million inhabitants.) It’s no surprise that desperate people will try anything. Happens here in the western world, too. A less salubrious reason is the popularity of rhino horn as a party drug among wealthy Vietnamese: it’s a status symbol, more expensive than cocaine.
You can be part of the solution – and a win fabulous prizes, too
In the Klein Karoo, I learnt that rhino poaching must be fought on three arenas:
- finding solutions on the ground to protect and save the rhinos,
- prosecuting poachers, and
- educating people, particularly in Asia.
You and I can help protect rhinos on the ground through Rhinos Without Borders.
This project is run by Beverly and Dereck Joubert, National Geographic Explorers In Residence, acclaimed wildlife photographers/filmmakers, and conservation advocates famous for their work in saving Africa’s Big Cats. Their goal for 2015: moving 100 rhinos from South Africa to Botswana. Why? Here’s what Beverly and Dereck say:
This initiative is about taking rhinos from existing, high density populations which are attracting more and more poaching, and releasing them into the wild within a country that has low densities of rhino and the best anti-poaching record on the continent. It also secures rhino breeding diversity and provides a nucleus of stock in a different location, so that these animals are not all concentrated in one location. It’s not a rescue, but it could be considered an Ark for rhino genes.
This is a costly endeavour; with capture, transport, quarantine and release, the cost is about USD 45000 per animal.
And that brings us to #JustOneRhino.
Help protect #JustOneRhino – and win fabulous prizes
More than 100 travel bloggers from around the world have teamed up with Green Global Travel and Travelers Building Change to spread the word about protecting #JustOneRhino. What’s more, many kind-hearted sponsors have contributed fantastic prizes, to further entice donors. The goal, as you might have surmised, is to raise enough money to move #JustOneRhino to safe grounds.
Donors will get a chance to win these generous prizes in the form of raffle tickets. The more you donate, the better your chances: USD 20 gives you 10 tickets, $30 gives you 20, etc.
You can donate here
… and be sure that 100% of your donation will be used to fund rhino relocation, no administrative cuts here.
Now to the swag:
What’s up for grabs?
- A 10-day Galapagos Voyage for one with International Expeditions – value USD 5298
- South Africa Big Five Safari: Kruger & KwaZulu-Natal + Swag Bag for 2 people Adventure Life – value USD 5000
- Seven nights B&B in a Garden View suite. Cobblers Cove Hotel, Barbados – Value USD 5187
- 10 nights’ stay & wellness package for 2 people in Nicaragua- Yemaya Island Hideaway & Spa, Nicaragua – value USD 5241
- Secret Retreats : Stays for 2 people at gorgeous properties in Bali, Koh Samui (Thailand), Cambodia and the Philippines – value USD 5800
- Prizes by a further 20 travel companies
And thanks to you, dear reader, for your support,
Sophie, Alexandra and Catarina