The statistics are staggering. Over the past half century or so, Africa’s black rhino population has fallen by some 97.6 percent, mainly as a result of poaching.
Rhinos are killed for their horns, which fetch big prices in some parts of Asia. They’re reputed — wrongly — to have medicinal benefits, particularly as aphrodisiacs. After their horns are cut off, the rest of the rhino is left to rot. It’s a horrible, cruel death for any animal to suffer, much less one of these magnificent, endangered creatures.
In South Africa alone, the number of rhino deaths from poaching has tripled in the past four years.
At this rate, future generations will know of wild rhinos only through books. The so-called Big Five of African safaris — lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos — will be reduced to the Big Four.
So I was heartened to read that a number of travel bloggers are promoting a campaign called #JustOneRhino.
A project called Rhinos Without Borders is working to relocate 100 rhinos from South Africa, where poaching is common, to neighboring Botswana, where poaching is not. The reason? Botswana has a shoot-to-kill policy against poachers, helping it retain the lowest poaching rates in Africa.
But to relocate that many rhinos could cost upwards of $5 million.
#JustOneRhino, the travel bloggers’ campaign, is looking to raise enough money — around $45,000 — to relocate one rhino.
It’s a start.
A number of eco-conscious companies have agreed to offer up some very attractive travel prizes — worth more than $30,000 — and everyone who donates will receive a chance to win. Prizes range from a nine-day African safari for two and a ten-day Galapagos voyage for one to stays of varying lengths at lodges and resorts in exotic spots around the world.
If you donate $20, you’ll get 10 entries for the prize drawing; 20 entries for a $30 donation; 30 entries for a $50 donation, and on up. The winners will be announced on March 3, 2015 — World Wildlife Day.
I’ve donated, and I hope you will too.