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Is there hope on the horizon?

Poaching has always been a very contentious issue around the world. Culturally the effects and reasons for poaching divide the world.

Rhinos are of course by far the most vulnerable species to poaching, and this cruel and devastating crime have pushed both Black and White African Rhino’s to extinction. South Africa has by far the largest population of rhinos in the world and is an incredibly important country for rhino conservation. From 2007-2014 the country experienced an exponential rise in rhino poaching – a growth of over 9,000%. Most illegal activity occurs in Kruger National Park, a 19,485 km2 of protected habitat on South Africa’s north-eastern border with Mozambique. Internationally famous, the Kruger National Park consistently suffered heavy poaching losses, and so in the last few years, the government and international donors have channeled ever more funding and resources into securing the Park. The South African Department for Environmental Affairs says 769 rhinos were slaughtered for their horns last year (2018) -- down from 1,028 the year before (2017). Thankfully in 2019 the numbers seem to have decreased a little bit more, however, this could also be due to the fact that there are unfortunately now, less rhinos to find and hence less rhinos to poach.

We at Good Hope Volunteers welcomed a new a glimmering hope for the future into our projects these last 2 weeks. The exact location of the birth of this wonderful creature is being kept secret but we would have welcomed a healthy male baby rhino, to Thandi, his mother. Thandi is a rare survivor of a brutal poaching incident in 2012. She was saved by wildlife vet Dr William Fowlds after being found in a pool of her own blood.

Volunteers from our Game Reserve Conservation programme were on-site to meet the new baby, who is of course the talk of the area, especially since Thandi escaped such a traumatic ordeal. All visitors remain at a comfortable distance, respecting Thandi and the baby during this time.

We are thrilled to be a small part of this miracle, and our volunteers at the Game Reserve Conservation programme were overjoyed to glimpse the new baby.

The horn on a rhinoceros is very different from that of a sheep or antelope. A rhino’s horn is not attached to the skull. Rhino horn is made of compressed keratin fibers, the same material that is found in fingernails and hair! Some people believe that rhino horn has powerful medicinal uses, ranging from stopping nosebleeds and headaches to curing diphtheria and food poisoning, but there is no scientific evidence that this is true.

According to a study by Dr. Nico van Strien in 2006, the longest rhino horn ever recorded was a 150 cm (59 inch) white rhino horn. This means the rhino’s horn alone was longer that the average adult pig! This horn was found before 1900 in South Africa and it was owned by Sir William Gordons Cummings, but according to the most recent information, the horn was stolen and its whereabouts are unknown.

If a Rhino is dehorned without cutting into the skull, it can grow back to almost full size after three years. However, if the rhinos skull is cut into while being dehorned, it could complicate or completely compromise the re-growth of the horn. As you can see from the photo of Thandi, her horn is growing back, but will never fully recover from her experience.

Yours,
The Good Hope Volunteer Team

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