What is it going to take?

Dear Friends,

Sometimes I ask myself ‘what is it going to take’? What is it going to take before the world really sits up and takes notice of the often irreversible damage we are doing to our planet? Will it take the extinction of a large mammal perhaps?

Well, the rhino could be an interesting case study. Today’s news that the West African black rhino has now officially been declared extinct, combined with a recent announcement that the last Javan rhino may have been poached in 2010, alongside ongoing mass killings of white and black rhino across East and Southern Africa and serious pressure on the Indian one-horned rhino, all paint a bleak picture for the species.

Declarations by high ranking officials in Vietnam that rhino horn can “cure cancer” have been blamed for the dramatic escalation in poaching. The black market price of rhino horn is now so high it is apparently more valuable than cocaine.

What is clear to me, is that rhino range States cannot be expected to protect their rhinos on their own. Despite best efforts by many range States, the organised criminal element and sophisticated equipment of the ruthless criminals involved in the illegal trade, who undoubtedly think the value of the horn means that poaching is a lucrative business and a risk worth taking, mean that the war is being lost in many areas.

Therefore, if we are to protect the remaining rhino populations, we have to curb the demand for their horn. Experts and officials have asked Asian “consumer” countries to make a stand, declare that rhino horn is NOT a cancer cure. But so far, no dramatic, meaningful action has been taken by these consumer countries. In my view, leadership has to come from the top on this issue. When the Dalai Lama told his followers that it was no longer to acceptable to use big cat skins in religious ceremonies, the skins were burned and their use immediately stopped. When will the heads of China and Vietnam do the same for rhino?

Born Free and others are continuing to press for stronger measures to be taken by the international community, and to fight against recent (extremely worrying) calls for a legalisation of rhino horn trade, but the future is far from certain. So far this year more than 350 rhinos have been poached in South Africa alone. Which brings me back to my original question – what is it going to take before the world sits up and takes notice?

Blogging off,

Will Travers

15 Responses to “What is it going to take?”

  1. Laura Savill Says:

    Reading this just saddens me more – these leaders do not take any notice of western interference or any of us that constantly write to them trying to explain their folly. Maybe we should start a rumour that human finger/toe nails (the same as rhino horn and elephant tasks)can provide miracle cures maybe the world will take notice. Seriously we all must keep up the pressure to save our world and hopefully it will not be the end.

    I weep in despair.

  2. Amanda Says:

    The general concerned populace of South Africa are doing whatever we can to highlight the plight of our rhino BUT our goverment is in bed with China regarding imports and exports. I sickens me!

  3. Patrick O Brien Says:

    Whats it going to take?

    “Only after the last tree has been cut down
    Only after the last river has been poisoned
    Only after the last fish has been caught
    Then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

    Sorry Will, but I truly believe THIS prophesy is becoming fact!!

  4. Feliciano Mario Mora Says:

    The words that Patrick says above ring all too true. The fact is that most people today are so connected to mass media devices and living in the NOW, that repercussions of the actions and negligence of the state of things is at an all time high. We manufacture and create more information now in a decade than all prior written history combined… and so little of it really has to do with the important things in life. 99% of people I talk to today will be more aware of what a Kardashian had for lunch than the fact that a majestic species like the Black Rhino is now gone.

  5. Meg Berger Says:

    It saddens me that so many people do not care about the animals and our interference in their lives and habitat. What will it take . . . the elephant no more, the tiger is gone, the lions are extinct and all the mammals of the sea are dead due to the poisons we dump in the ocean. When we poison ourselves with all our pollutants and someone in a position of power wakes up maybe then we will start to care and do something good for a change. What will we leave for the children of tomorrow? So sad!

  6. Brenda Says:

    North and South Americans and Europeans caused the first extinctions. It seems to be a habit of humans. Times like this, the voluntary human extinction movement doesn’t sound so funny :(

  7. Taylir Villanova Says:

    My heart is broken as my worry deepens for our Earth and her creatures. It is imparative that we come together as humans, without regard for race or nationality and SAVE our Earth. People need to start getting really pissed off, TAKE ACTION. One of the best sayings I have ever heard is;

    They came for the Jews, but I was not Jewish so I didn’t speak up, they came for the Indians, but I wasn’t Indian so I didn’t speak up, they came for the Asians, but I was not Asian so I didn’t speak up, they came for the Latins, but I wasn’t Latin so I didn’t speak up, they came for the Africans, but I was not African so I didn’t speak up. AND THEN, they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up…..

    We can do this! Save our Mother Earth!! Every living thing on Earth is meant to be here or it wouldn’t be, we are all intricate piece’s of a puzzle, we can not afford to lose any more pieces! If we do, I doubt we can put the puzzle back together again.


  8. Justin Says:

    Excellent points Will. But we have been “doing enforcement” wrong for 40 years. There is a need for less focus on anti-poaching measures and in fact less focus on the consumers themselves but on rhino-horn ‘pushers’. Serious organised criminals buy and market rhino horn. Until they are targeted by government agencies we will continue to lose species great and small.

  9. lori james Says:

    Asia, just doesn’t seem to care. Pat I’m afraid your right.

  10. Jessica Powell Says:

    Why is it that Asia is responsible for so much degradation to the world’s wildlife populations? It also seems that no matter how much pressure the Western world puts on them and no matter how much proof they are given of the damage and corruption they exert on the environment NOTHING is what continues to be done by their leaders. I am also so curious as to where these extremely bold and ridiculous medical claims come from! Where are the people that it has worked for? Where is the undeniable scientific proof that rhino horn is curing one of the world’s most feared and prevalent diseases??? The things we have been warned about for so long and we perhaps never really thought would be upon us are finally beginning to unfold. Its sickening but we cannot give up!

  11. Derek Rankine Says:

    There are too many governments, ours included, that are turning a blind eye to China’s insatiable demands for these ridiculous and totally unfounded ‘cures’. Isn’t it strange that wherever China have a strong economic influence, poaching has rocketed. We need other countries to make a stand before they wipe out any free wildlife left in the world!!

  12. Ines Says:

    Chinese people should be informed about the shocking truth of poaching rhinos! I guess many never saw a real rhino or never have been to Africa in their life! They possilbly don´t know anything about rhinos or elephants! A documentary film which shows that rhinos are amazing animals and how horrilble poaching is should be shown to them! But how to get such a film on chinese tv?

  13. Samia Says:

    Do remember Jessica that Europe and America centuries ago already destroyed the forests and wildlife they had. Since the damage was done long ago, we seem to feel that only Asia is in the wrong today.
    Also, I believe not only Asia is to blame. There are many buyers in Europe and America that purchase horns, tusks and the sort…

    I guess humankind as a whole is to blame.

    But I am always grateful to know, via BornFree and Will, that there are people out there who still have their eyes open to reality, and I am grateful they keep me enlightened to the plight of our radiant mother Earth. Otherwise how would we know the sufferings of our innocent inhabitants– the mass media today focusses on hiding more than what it shows…

  14. Motria von Schreiber Says:

    Bill, Please don’t just end your statement this way. Follow up your thoughts with hope and solutions please. Like so many others I have such an enormous respect for your thoughts.
    What can each of us do right now to be catalysts for change? The average person who reads this tragic news feels utterly helpless, immobilised, frustrated, depressed and angered. What can we do? What can we do?
    Motria from Australia

  15. Will Travers Says:

    I do try to always give some sense of hope – apologies to one and all if this is not always the case – sometimes I am not sure what to do myself! But this blog on Rhino makes a clear suggestion, the question is how to achieve it!?

    As always, spreading the word, talking about the issues, getting people to lend their support to Born Free in whatever way they can is enormously valuable – we are currently working on perhaps 100 different projects, large and small, so every bit of help is appreciated!