South African headlines, internet feeds and blog updates have, for the past seven months, been reflecting a sad and shocking trend in our national game parks: Mid way through the year 2010, 152 rhinoceros have been illegally shot, poached, and stripped of their horns, presumably for sale on the black-market – alarmingly, this number is nearly equal to the number that were poached in the entirety of last year, and the toll looks set to keep climbing!
On top of a huge outcry from South Africans against this terrible movement, there has also been a wide-sweeping feeling of impotence – South Africans want to help, but most of us aren’t in a position to take up arms and follow rhinos around as protective detail.
At Krugerpark.com, we have been asked by many people how they can help with the cause. It’s a tough question to answer: the only thing that would really help is a massive, multifaceted campaign. The East needs to stop creating a demand for rhino horns; poachers need to be stopped before they enter the park; the supply of tranquilizers available to the poachers has to be stopped, and the number of rangers available to look after the park needs to be increased…among other things. This is a large and expensive campaign, which is actually currently struggling.
Despite the seemingly overwhelming nature of the campaign, there are ways you can help. We’ve done some research on various ways to donate, volunteer and get involved and have found some great initiatives:
Much of the volunteer work available enables you to work with these animals on a “pay-to-be-there” basis – and what animal lover wouldn’t want to just book off a week and a half from work and spend it bottle feeding a rhino calf? However, there are costs to be considered for the duration of your stay, such as housing, transport, food, and equipment.
Manifesting the concept of a conservation holiday into volunteer programs, various initiatives have made it possible for holiday makers to donate both their time and portions of their own funding to their conservation holidays, giving you greater control over how much you put into your time there:
- Wildlife Acts has a number of projects involving various conservation efforts. There is a yearly rhino project designed to get you up close and involved with these great beasts – all of their projects are, however, centered on conservation and protection of wildlife specific to the area.
- The cost of the first two weeks is R 9800, and for every subsequent two weeks is R8200, including accommodation, food, equipment and a contribution to the cause. The duration of your trip is flexible but no less than 2 weeks.
- Enkosini supports a Black Rhino Research program, with volunteer work in a supportive capacity in order to support the researchers. Tracking and trapping is all part of the investigation into the impact of relocation of the black rhino. This project is located miles from any towns, out in the bush in simple accommodation for two weeks at a time. Cost for two weeks is $1395 (approximately R9765), with a decreasing rate per week for every subsequent week.
When deciding who to give your money to, it’s always a great idea to check them out first. Decide if you agree with their profile, the ways in which they develop their projects, and how they spend their money. The biggest group supporting this kind of initiative, for many years, is:
- World Wildlife Fund: probably the most well known conservation effort. While there are options to adopt numerous endangered species on the WWF’s list, there is unfortunately no current option to adopt a rhino. Guests are welcome to donate any amount to them on a once off or monthly basis, here, or simply to visit their webpage to find out more: http://www.worldwildlife.org/
Get some exercise
One of the many popular ways to raise money for any cause is an organised event of some kind, with cycling, running and walking events always drawing a crowd. You could host or create an event yourself, or take part in those run by some of the bigger organizations:
- Save The Rhino has several cycling and walking events in various places around the world that are very popular, as well as being a great way to support the cause while staying fit: www.savetherhino.org
Browse the web
Yes, we do mean it – you can donate money to charities simply by browsing the web. Yahoo donates half of the profits of their advertising campaigns to the charity of your choice if you use their new browser and select your charity. It’s a fantastic initiative that costs you nothing yet contributes greatly!
- International Rhino Foundation is one of the listed charities and their page on ‘what you can do’ gives a great explanation as well as links to the relevant pages: http://www.rhinos-irf.org/whatyoucando/
These are some of the best ways we have found to help save the rhino. If you find any others or have some great suggestions, or if you are organizing your own fundraising event, please let us know! The more we all do, the better chance we have at preserving and protecting this quickly disappearing species.