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Support for Zimbabwe's black rhino

Support for Zimbabwe's black rhino

Support for Zimbabwe's black rhino

Never before have Africa’s rhino populations been as precariously balanced as they are now. Organised, efficient, mobile and very professional poaching syndicates are targeting rhino throughout southern Africa.

But small efforts can make a difference, as shown at the recent Tusker’s Spring exhibition held in Harare to raise money for rhino anti-poaching efforts in the Save Valley Conservancy. Well-known Zimbabwean artists Lin Barrie and Will Maberly exhibited work at the event which was hosted by Meredith & Meredith and Off the Track Expeditions. Just over US$6 500 was raised with more expected in the way of donations and pledges.

The demand for rhino horn in China and Vietnam has grown in the last five years, partly due to the myth that rhino horn can cure cancer. With today’s highly targeted and sophisticated poaching syndicates, areas like the Save Valley have extended their fundraising and awareness efforts in order to counter the increasing threat.

Formed in 1991, the Save Valley Conservancy area had been historically used for cattle ranching. Today it is made up of different ranches, dedicated to wildlife and protecting black rhinos from extinction. Zimbabwe’s lowveld area, made up of a few key private wildlife areas which include the Save Valley Conservancy, is home to an incredible 87% of Zimbabwe’s remaining black rhino.

As Raoul du Toit, rhino conservationist and guest speaker at Tusker’s Spring said, “Saving rhinos does more than simply save a worthy creature; rhinos act as catalysts. If we save rhino we save a whole lot more. Since they require a high level of professional, organised protection, their protection provides protection for other wildlife.”

“Rhinos also need space – about 1000 hectares per animal”, says du Toit, “which means a lot of habitat for other animals”. And of course, due to their rarity, prehistoric beauty and ‘Big Five’ status, rhinos are a very helpful tourism attraction.

Tourists can see these endangered giants up close by visiting one of six safari lodges in the conservancy – Chishakwe, Senuko, Sango, Mokore, Matendere or Humani – which each offer diverse game-viewing experiences. For those in Harare, look out for the Rhino Golf Day on the 16 November and also the sale of the DVD There’s a rhino in my house – the documentary story of baby rhino Tatenda who was raised by John and Judy Travers at Imire after his mother was killed by poachers in 2007. All profits are going to rhino conservation. World Rhino Day is on 22 September so keep an eye out for news on events being held on that day.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 10, Sept 2012)