A white rhino was shot dead by poachers at 8:15pm last Saturday in the Shamwari Game Reserve on the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This is the first time a rhino has been killed illegally within the province in more than 150 years. I find this incident so deeply disturbing – not only because an animal was lost & the poachers are not yet detained, but also because of the potential implications this has for eco-tourism and conservation in the Eastern Cape and within the Shamwari Reserve. If the public opinion of this region (which has been so active and avid about their conservation efforts) diminishes, then there is an un-doubtable spiral effect on the region’s economy, well-being and natural health. I do, however, have faith that the quickness with which the game reserve anti-poaching team re-acted and the intensive investigation that has been launched will keep public opinion of the region high, and keep the eco-tourism & conservation efforts moving! This incident is also disheartening in regards to the deep and rich history The WILD Foundation has in this region and with the unique and beautiful white rhino species. Dr. Ian Player, WILD’s founder and renowned conservationist was integrally involved in bringing the white rhino back from the brink of extinction, and this effort stands as a symbol of our strength, vision and history. The white rhino is a bit of a mascot for us…..
It is believed that the slaying is work of a national syndicate, which has poached more than 40 rhinos within the last year – killing solely for the animal’s horns, which are then sold in the Far East as cure for fever. The Shamwari anti-poaching unit reacting hastily to the first shots, but unfortunately could not save the rhino or detain the poachers. They did however scare the poachers off so quickly that they were unable to recover the rhino’s horn. Read more about the incident and what is being done to track the poachers >>