I once had a very angry, but mostly very sad rhino owner phoning me. A rhino calf has been butchered by poachers, but survived the ordeal. The calf was being taken care of by his owners and very well experienced vets. This rhino owner asked me, “What do you know of what we must go through, we don’t sleep at night. These rhino’s are our biggest passion, but our biggest heartsore and headache to carry. Have you ever been so worried, that you spent the night with a rhino in the bush??!!”
After hearing all that sorrow, grief and passion, I confessed to the owner; “No, I don’t have a rhino, but I do know what you are going through, and that it is my passion to make sure that the rest of the public, us as normal citizens, also know.” He asked “How do you do that?” That was quite easy to answer, by doing a #renostermaan, or translated #rhinomoon.
Traditionally full moon periods are known as blood moon or poacher’s moon. The reason for this is that the bush is brightly lit by the moonlight. Even the rhinos that walk around seem as if they are highlighted by silver neon, which makes them easy targets. The poachers do not need any light and can walk freely in the bush. They ambush their prey without any detection, since there is no torch or fire to give their presence away to the rhino farmer or their APU’s (anti-poaching units).
We have decided to change this by pro-actively renaming poacher’s moon to rhino moon and hope transpired! Not only do you get to know our private rhino owners better, but also assist them with your mere presence during these periods. We have come to learn that this discourages the informants, which is proven to be that one person on a reserve where poaching starts. This informant does not know, how many people there will be, where they will be on the reserve, and therefore which root is safest and easiest for poachers to enter and exit. A highly visible patrol, camping around campfires, monitoring the rhino’s during the day and night, all this by normal citizens, has kept the rhino’s safe on these reserves for the past 13 months!
Patrols done by the public, with assistance of APU’s and the rhino owner, at dawn, dusk sometimes midnight and during any time of the day, leaves lots of spoors in the bush. This discourages the poachers to cross over, as their escape after their criminal and brutal attack on the rhino, will be hindered and most likely be unsuccessful.
#rhinomoon is a way to donate time, passion and build friendships. This also inspires a devotion to rhino’s. Once you have watched over a wild rhino, a peaceful gentle giant; that rhino steals your heart and will you stay committed to him, his offspring, his owner who fights this battle every day, at high expenses and high risks to see them wander freely and be what they should have been, at peace. They are definitely not meant to be some silly unproven drug in some idiots drink. An idiot who has given no thought to a live African wild animal, which was not his to start with.
Let’s make the rhino our heritage and keep them safe!