The Rhino Wars in Garden Route

Arts & Culture 2010 South Africa alone lost 333 rhinos to poaching...

Unique, one of a kind, and special. These are the positive illusions conjured up by the the word ‘rare’.  However in South Africa, behind all the stunning scenery, curving coastline and safari lodges, lies a war that wages at the very root of this word. This war concerns South Africa’s resident species, the White and Black Rhinoceros.

Unique, one of a kind, and special these muscular-bodied beauties may be, with their smooth shale-like skin and shiny charcoal eyes, however, in South Africa with a poaching problem on the rise, rare in this case has come to mean scarce, endangered and possibly extinct.

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Despite countless warnings and a heavy-handed approach taken by the South African Government, the issue of poaching still rears its ugly head, cropping up in the wildlife and game parks of South Africa’s Garden Route and Eastern Cape. The lure a rhino horn, sold on the Asian black market for more than its weight in gold, seems to be all too tempting for the pitiful poachers out there. And, with claims of the rhino horn containing a cure for cancer, more fuel has been added to this ferocious fire of organised crime despite being refuted by scientists. Renowned for their glorious safaris, Garden Route is now taking action.

Shocking statistics show that in 2010 South Africa alone lost 333 rhinos to poaching, the highest number ever recorded and a tripled figure from the previous year, beginning what has become known as ‘The Rhino Wars’. Home to 70 percent of the world’s rhino population, clearly something had to be done in South Africa.

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This is where the conservationists stepped in to up the ante, putting measures in place to protect the lives of this endangered species, helping to achieve what legislative ban has failed to do. Training 24/7 anti-poaching units, such as those at Shamwari Reserve, and calf rearing and rehabilitation programs, conservationists have helped to protect the ever-increasingly endangered rhino. Some game parks such as the Kragga Kamma Reserve, home to a stunning white rhino family, have even employed more extreme methods such as safely cutting off the horns of their rhinos to protect them from poaching.

‘And where do I come in?’ I can hear you wondering. As a safari hot-spot offering some of the best malaria-free accommodation, South Africa’s glorious Garden Route and Eastern Cape are the perfect place for travellers to spare some of their thoughts, not to mention their time, dedicated to this worthy cause. And, with organisations such as ‘Stop Rhino Poaching’ campaigning throughout South Africa, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. Support can be as simple as being on the watch out for suspicious behaviour, reporting illegal trading, or visiting some of the smaller game reserves to help them fund their own rhino preservation and protection programs.

So, spread the word, raise awareness, and help South Africa to face this ever-growing poaching problem head-on.