The world of rhino conservation is all consuming, sometimes torturous, and reward is fleeting. Yet it’s a calling, like any I suppose, that cannot be ignored. Others have heeded the call, some living in the trenches even more overwhelmed with the life and death scenarios on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.
Like many “animal lovers” fed up with the atrocities our fellow humans have committed toward other species, I never considered myself a “people person”. I believed the rhinos in essence were in need of help and saving from people.
“Shoot the poachers”, “Save the rhinos”
Yet at some point over the years, something surprising has happened. I realized, like most things, it’s not that simple. What began as a one-tracked repetitive concern of rhinos has transformed into…well, a greater worry, compassion and understanding of humanity.
I’ve come to understand two greater truths:
1. Rhinos are only the beginning. While they are dying, other species are too. And IF they’re gone for good, it only opens the door to poaching and trafficking of other species. It will not stop with them because it’s not a rhino problem, it’s a human problem.
2. In order to save the rhinos, we MUST work together. WE, as in, people. Rangers need our support, would-be-poachers need stable incomes for their families, and communities need incentive to support themselves and each other. And in order to “set the table” for this to happen WE, as in organizations and governments need to work together to support these efforts. More jobs, greater education=more rhinos and wildlife in general.
Through support from donors like many of you, and working with other organizations I’ve realized there ARE people who care, and that rhinos need people. Perhaps the most humbling lesson has been a personal one, I need people.
If we, are successful, THEY are successful and in the end we all win.