So I thought I'd write my take and opinions on the Rhino Poaching situation we are facing in Africa at the moment. It has been just over a year since my last post about the Rhino Poaching in which I was angered by the situation we were facing.
Over the past 14-15 months I've had the privilege of spending some time thinking about and considering the situation and through many discussions with family and friends (as well as talking to my Facebook community); I have reconsidered my opinion about the situation.
We are now fighting a war – especially with the equipment poachers now have access to. Poachers are able to use equipment which our rangers, police and SANDF personal can only dream of being equipped with. We are out-numbered and out-gunned with no real end to poaching in site, but what can we do? How can we help?
When the reward for one Rhino horn is so high, how are we meant to convince the poacher (who generally earns less in a year than he would earn by poaching) that a rhino is worth more alive than dead? How are we meant to convince the poacher who probably doesn't fully understand what he is doing and that it is wrong?
Education will help a lot but it requires more than just education at the "grass-root level", we need to show the world, why our Rhinos are so valuable. Only once we have achieved this, I feel as though we'll have achieved a lot in reducing the number of Rhinos poached, as the guys who are doing the poaching will then reconsider it, as it doesn't just effect them but has an affect on the entire community.
What we also need is to rethink the consequences for poaching; with longer jail periods and stricter conditions for those found to be poaching or in possession of poaching equipment. We have just seen that a ‘shoot to kill policy’ has been implemented in Botswana (a policy which Zimbabwe have had for quite a while) but I do not feel like it would be that effective in reducing the numbers of rhino's poached, even though it drastically increases the consequences of poaching but, are we not handing our rangers the chance to be judge and jury, to decide who is guilty or not? We are giving them the power to decide who lives and who dies? We are granting them the power to be a law unto themselves and not have to answer for there actions, which may be unjust.
A life for a life has been said by many; but do we realise how important that life could be?
Another question people have asked me is whether I feel legalising and farming rhino for the horn is something I would ever consider to be an affective control method.
Honestly I do not feel like this would have any sort of effect on the demand of Rhino horn. For example, look at something which is also a drug: alcohol. Alcohol is still abused by the world over and all that has happened is people have become rich off the affects and abuse of alcohol.
As a photographer, the effect of Rhino poaching on me will be immense, these creatures are beautiful and intriguing and each animal I've encountered has had their own personality's which I have tried to capture in an image.
What will going away be like, if we are not able to view and appreciate these majastic beasts in their natural environment?
I think I speak for many, if we allow the species to go extinct, we would of lost an African Icon. If these animals disapear from the wild, I'll have a heavy heart as I think about what more we could of done.
Thankfully we still have time to save these awesome creatures.
Comment and let me know what your thoughts are or come and join the conversation on my facebook page: Found Here
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