Zimbabwe

Harare

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United by hope for the rhino

United by hope for the rhino

United by hope for the rhino

World Rhino Day, 22 September 2011, was marked in Harare by a march through the city centre, a show of government support and a performance by singing celebrity Oliver Mutukudzi.

Zimbabweans stood together with one goal to show solidarity in the war against rhino poaching. World Rhino Day was marked with a march through the city centre to the sound of the Zimbabwean Police Band.

School children turned out in force with banners and posters ranging from ‘Rhino horn is not medicine,’ to ‘My horn belongs on my head.’ Government was represented by the Ministry of Environment and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, led by the Director General, Vitalis Chadenga, himself. The private sector and groups concerned with conservation and animal welfare also flew their banners high.

As we marched, the police stopped traffic and onlookers waved and cheered the procession. Walking to the sound of the drums and childrens’ excited voices, I was removed to another world, a world where we all had one cause.

The horror of the massacre of these magnificent beasts melted into the back of my mind for just a moment. For now, the vision was of flowering jacarandas, smiling faces and a march of hope!

We arrived at Unity Square, where the crowd was entertained by a wildlife display put on by Parks, a colourful marquee and impromptu performances by eminent musician and wildlife supporter, Oliver Mtukudzi.

The opening remarks of our Minister of Environment set the tone: “It is my singular honour to be here today to celebrate World Rhino Day which marks the beginning of a new thrust in our efforts to promote the protection of the rhino. It is a celebration of successful conservation strategies implemented by various individuals, organisations and companies who are pooling their resources to conserve the rhino from poaching.

Our primary objective is to create awareness of the plight of the rhino and help stem illegal trade in rhino and rhino products worldwide.”

The moment was a celebration of our heritage as well as to create awareness of the cause, so now was not the time to dwell on a seemingly impossible task. School children regaled the crowds with a rhino quiz, receiving prizes for their correct answers. Members of the public were drawn in, gleefully expounding their knowledge and being rewarded with T shirts. But most pleasing of all, was when the humble ‘Tuku’ delighted the crowds with the catchy riffs and poignant lyrics of old favourites and new songs. A nation moved by music and now a unified desire to protect endangered animals.

The Minister stated that now is the time to act, by rigid law enforcement, death if need be, to show how serious Zimbabwe is in curbing poaching and strengthening the Intensive Protection Zones. This was a confirmation of a policy that was already in place but just needed to be actioned by a renewed collaboration of conservation effort. If ever Zimbabwe needed to stand together, it is now before it is too late for the rhino and other species.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 07, Dec 2011)