As Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed, commercial rhino poaching is increasing dramatically and rhino population gains are being eroded. A real crisis now exists: one that will have long-term consequences.
Save the Rhino International, in partnership with International Rhino Foundation, has launched an appeal in order to increase awareness of the threats facing Zimbabwe's rhinos and to raise much-needed funds.
Poaching of black and white rhinos in Zimbabwe has more than doubled in the last year.
The rhinos are targeted by organised and armed poaching gangs for their horn, which is then sold on the black market. Over 100 Critically Endangered black rhinos have been killed by poachers in the Lowveld since 2000; 40 of these in 2008 alone, 18 black rhinos so far in 2009. One of the many side-effects of this increase in poaching has been the rise in the number of orphaned, and sometimes injured, rhino calves that must be treated and rehabilitated.
Why should we get involved?
The tragic reality
Just after dawn in early March, Sinikwe, a black rhino cow, and her 16-month-old calf were ambushed by poachers in the thick brush. Sinikwe escaped with gunshot wounds. Her calf was shot and killed; its horn hacked off with an axe minutes after its death. Weeks later, a rhino monitoring unit that is checking on Sinikwe’s recovery sees that she is still returning regularly to her calf’s carcass. The poachers also know of her unwillingness to abandon her calf. Their footprints have been seen recently, following hers from the dead calf.
These organised poaching gangs are taking advantage of the country’s current instability. Even when poachers are arrested and jailed, they are freed by a judge with minimum bail, sometimes because there is no fuel to bring them to court. They go straight back into the field to try to poach another rhino. the rhinos are killed for their horn and the body is left to rot.
The Lowveld Rhino Trust is therefore planning to move as many as 50-60 rhinos out of the more vulnerable areas starting in the next month. These emergency operations place a great deal of strain on the available resoibses, as does the need to care for the orphan rhino calves. However, with fewer than 460 black rhinos left in Zimbabwe, it is vital that we not only try to prevent these poaching incidents, but that the staff at The Lowveld Rhino Trust are able to rescue, treat and rehabilitate any orphaned rhino calves. Every rhino really does matter: their survival is imperative in order to increase Zimbabwe’s rhino numbers. Despite everything, Zimbabwe is still home to the fourth largest population of black rhino in the world, with roughly 10% of the world’s black rhinos: a population that is in severe danger due to poaching for their horn.
Why should we care about the rhinos when people are dying?
There is a massive humanitarian crisis – cholera and dysentery – that needs urgent attention, but we also need to look at the long-term implications of the poachers’ actions on local communities. The crisis undermines the country’s economic recovery because rhino poaching is threatening one of the key economic pillars of Zimbabwe: ecotourism. The tourism industry was once a major source of income and has the potential to regenerate quickly. Zimbabwe needs healthy ecosystems – clean water, rich soil, plentiful trees and a diversity of life – in order to sustain the local communities and to provide a basis for future tourism. But we need to act now to ensure it’s not lost.
Act now and donate to the Zimbabwe Rhino Crisis Appeal
We urgently need your help. The Lowveld Rhino Trust is working to save Zimbabwe’s rhinos from poachers by translocating rhinos from high-risk areas to smaller, well-protected locations; treating rhinos with snare and shot wounds and returning them to the wild; rehabilitating injured orphaned rhino calves; helping authorities track, apprehend and prosecute poachers; and intensively tracking and monitoring rhinos to ensure their safety.
All of these operations require vital funds, so please give whatever you can.
Online – Please click on the donate button below.
Telephone - Call 020 7357 7474 in normal office hours to make a donation via debit/credit card.
Post - Send a cheque made out to “Save the Rhino” with “Crisis Zimbabwe” written on the back, to Save the Rhino, 16 Winchester Walk, London SE1 9AQ.
Zimbabwe’s rhinos are not yet a lost cause. Please do what you can today before it’s too late.
Below are examples of how your money could be used
£6.75 - feeds one young orphan for a day .
£17 – provides the rhino monitors with patrol rations and basic commodities for one month
£26 - feeds five calves for a day (milk, cubes and browse)
£67- enables resources for when a crucial rhino sighting is required
Crucial sightings: are rhinos that have taken even more effort to find, or which are new-born calves that haven’t yet been recorded, or injured rhinos that need veterinary treatment.
At least 50% of your donation will go to the Lowveld Rhino Trust and will be used to support emergency operations (including translocations, veterinary treatment, and anti-poaching efforts) and care of orphaned rhino calves in the Lowveld Conservancies of Zimbabwe. The rest will be allocated by Save the Rhino's Trustees..