If you care about rhino then read this. All is not doom and gloom. By Romi Boom
“We have to demonstrate to the world that we can dig ourselves out of this black hole and restore the rhino to dignity and security once and for all. It won’t be the first time we’ve done it. What we need is a ‘Rhino Revolution’.”
So say Clive and Anton Walker, authors of the bestselling Rhino Keepers (2012), in their latest publication, Rhino Revolution: Searching for new solutions (2018, Jacana Media, R350). The ongoing campaign against rhino poaching in South Africa is now in its 10th year: last year 662 members of this iconic species were killed in the Kruger National Park and over 1,000 in South Africa.
The Walkers have dug deep to conclude that the enemy does not lie in Southeast Asia, but in South Africa’s own backyard. Corruption (the country has a dubious track record of facilitating movement of ivory to international markets) and the criminal justice system, the need for more community engagement and the costs of protection are lessons that have been learnt from the past.
Confronting the complex question of legalising the trade in rhino horn, the authors argue that it will help rather than harm the rhino’s chances of survival: “We believe it is naïve to think that legislation or demand reduction will halt the killing of rhino in today’s world. […] It is simply not sustainable in the long run in a continent bedevilled by poverty and corruption.”
This is a serious book, based on decades of first-hand experience and solid research, with magnificent photographs. Since rhinos do not enjoy the popularity of lions and elephants, the international conservation movement needs to give people a reason to safeguard this odd animal. The take-home message is that we should employ rhino as environmental conservation ambassadors for all endangered species.
To see what it takes to protect South Africa’s critically endangered black and white rhinos, Wild went behind the scenes in the Kruger. Click here to watch the video.
Two more for the shortlist
Lion lovers, take note
This book may well break your heart… but I guarantee you will be sharing the stories and amazing photos with whomever has eyes and ears to lend. Think orphaned cubs that roam the beaches of the Skeleton Coast and human-lion conflict in the only place on Earth where a small population of these desert-adapted cats occurs. For one scientist the conservation of Namibia’s unique desert lions has become a lifelong commitment. The account of his dedicated and painstaking journey, latterly joined by a young couple of award-winning wildlife filmmakers, is spellbinding – as is the extraordinary ability of the lions to adapt and thrive in this hyper-arid environment.
Vanishing Kings: Lions of the Namib Desert by Philip Stander with Will & Lianne Steenkamp. HPH Publishing. 2018. R650.
Safari field guide
One of the best ways to prepare for your next game drive is by reading up on the nitty gritty about the animals you hope to see. A field guide is a must-have item on safari, but with a plethora of good ones on the market, which to choose? Like many people, I am hugely stimulated by a very visual book, and cannot wait for my next bush trip when I look at photos that I wish I could have taken. This companion guide not only helps to ID lesser known species, it takes your breath away because so many of the photos are in a class of their own. In addition to concise information about the 90 mammal species you are most likely to encounter, the guide provides distribution maps and tables of comparison. This updated and revised edition of the original, which appeared five years ago, is in soft cover.
Game Drive Mammals of southern Africa by Philip and Ingrid van den Berg, Heinrich van den Berg. HPH Publishing. 2018. R395.