I am using my column this week to garner support for a very important issue which I am sure will touch a nerve with all of AfricaFreak’s readers… One of Africa’s greatest icons – the rhinoceros – is currently being slaughtered indiscriminately in South Africa by highly organized and professional gangs of poachers.
Prized in Asia, specifically China, for its horn which is ground up and used as an aphrodisiac, an attack last weekend at the Pilanesberg National Park adjacent to Sun City left five white rhino dead, their horns removed, bringing the total number of animals lost this year to a staggering 210 – which averages at 18 rhino deaths each month. Some statistics suggest that South Africa is losing a rhino a day and last Wednesday, September 22 was declared “rhino day” with demonstrations outside the South African parliament in Cape Town and action taken all over the country to bring attention to this shocking state of affairs.
But no matter what we, as a nation do, without international help and screams of outrage from you, the travelling public, the South African government, and the governments of the nations who still openly trade in rhino horn, will not be brought to account.
We need to put pressure on these leaders of nations to stop this carnage and start looking within their own borders for the culprits who are the root cause of this evil trade in animal parts.
I speak not just for the slain rhino but also for the thousands of elephants poached each year for their ivory, for lions and other big cats whose genitals are used in traditional Asian medicine, for gorillas and other primates whose hands and organs are also used in “muti” – traditional medicines here in Africa and also in Asia and all of those countless animals tortured, maimed and ultimately killed for bogus traditions and beliefs or to make people feel better about their sexual prowess or image.
Thousands of sharks are annually lost in Southern African waters not to long-line fishermen but to shark finners, who hack off the dorsal and ventral fins of even the magnificent great white to turn the same into soup for high-brow Chinese and Asian families eager to impress and show off their wealth. The sharks are de-finned whilst alive and then thrown back into the water to die slow and painful deaths.
It is about time for China and other Asian nations to be tackled head-on about this shocking decimation of the inhabitants of the world’s last, great wilderness areas. And if the governments of Africa won’t take a stand, then it is up to us, the people of planet Earth, to unite and say “enough is enough”. For your part you can visit Rhino Africa and begin there, or you can, like me, start to boycott Chinese products (which these days means looking at virtually every appliance and article in your home). And put pressure on your governments to stop cow-towing to the Chinese, who are systematically buying up African countries and investing untold billions of US Dollars into this continent… For what? Nobody knows.
No matter how progressive Beijing may appear to be, and no matter how cosmopolitan cities like Shanghai may seem, let us not forget that China is the last great outpost of communism on this planet, does not have a democratically elected government and has one of the worst human rights and environmental records in history.
And whether directly, or indirectly, China and its ilk are responsible in the main for the senseless slaughter of Africa’s beautiful, iconic animals.
Do what you can to stop the slaughter. Now. Before it’s too late. Or get to Africa now to see these amazing animals before they disappear, condemned to the annals of history and fading magazine pages.