Posts Tagged With: stress

Take a Deep Breath…then Fight On

We’ve all seen the photos and articles of the never-ending decimation of wildlife. We all ache with grief, burn with rage and want so badly to help. But what do you do when it all gets to be too much? I asked some of the activists on the frontlines: “What do you do to de-stress/unwind when it all gets to be too much?”

Zen dog

via Reddit

Allison Thomson from OSCAP “When it really gets to be too much I just go and do some housework, gardening, etc., any hard work to take my mind off other things.”

Damien Mander Iapf, International Anti-poaching Foundation “The major stress in my life is the slaughter of animals across the world. Working hard is my way to tackle that stress.”

“Rhino” Ramorulane, ranger at a rhino sanctuary “I just drink lots of water, and  just try to be around people or read books and avoid being alone”

Peter Stewart Rogers DVM at Prolife Veterinary Services in SA “It is very difficult but  I get motivated by the few positive things that happen like a poaching syndicate being busted; orphaned rhino calf being rescued; nursing injured/shot rhino back to health; and taking heart from seeing how much public support there is for this anti poaching war !!!”

zen gorilla

via: Caters

Ofir Drori, founder of  LAGA, Wildlife Law Enforcement “I get my energy from the fight itself. The more I do and the more diverse it is there is always something achieved in the sea of shit for me to get a good nights sleep.  Because there are so many diversified fights at least one thing succeeds per day so it feels like swimming in shit, but succeeding in it. Besides that I have my guitar which is a good therapy for all the violence in my soul.”

Margrit Harris-Executive Director at Nikela-Helping People and Saving Wildlife -“For me I need to get involved with some positive stories. I need to read and watch things that restore my faith in humanity and make me believe again. As for unwinding… I personally take long walks, I sit and watch the birds.” Her advice: When your mind is spinning imagine a huge stop sign appearing right in front of you. Then sing an uplifting tune or transport yourself mentally to a happy place. The mind cannot entertain two things at the same time…..


via: Tisha Wardlow

Robert Obrein, KWS, Asst Director of Tsavo East and West – “I call my rangers together( those whose area had been infiltrated) and we console each other and talk of what might have happened and our way forward. I always lay blame on me and not the rangers and this has always worked well in cooling their nerves, and God save the next poacher who comes along. I have been in security since 1992 and I have learned to control blood sugars and many more.

 Matt Bracken, ranger at Protrack APU– ” I always find inspiration again when I speak with someone new, and they learn and become involved and actually appreciate spreading the message and slowly but surely turning the tides natures way.”
Paula Kahumbu, KWS, founder of “Hands off our elephants campaign” “I always keep elephants at the top of my mind – whatever I do should add up to saving them, and if I get distracted by feelings, emotions, anger etc, I ground myself again and apologise if I’ve gone wrong, forgive myself for wasting time and energy, then start again…”
 Drew Abrahamson, PA for Dereck and Beverly Joubert , lion activist– ” I tend to listen to a lot of music & also have the pleasure of going to be in the bush fairly regularly…I think that helps too. When things are tough…I kinda keep fighting…& that’s when I fight the hardest…”
A very good piece of advice she was given and passes on: When you lose an animal, a fight, remember-“losses and not defeats”. Those words keep her going every day, especially when the going gets tough.
sleeping rhino

via: mama zen

 For me, my “happy place” is taking a walk outside, somewhere quiet and secluded, where I can be reminded of nature and animals in their own world, without worries of what surrounds them. It touches my soul and strengthens me by reminding me what we’re fighting for.
 We’re human. We can’t afford to look away or quit, but sometimes fighting the fight, we need to recharge. So if you need to take a breather-turn off the computer and walk away for a few hours. Find yourself. Remember why you started this in the first place. Take a deep breathe and jump back in.
sleeping lion gif

via: Tay-Roar

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breeding in a War Zone

Each day, 3 rhinos and 100 elephants lose their lives to poaching. It’s a tragedy of global proportion, threatening the future of both species. But poaching is also having dire effects on the living populations.


*Female rhinos reach sexual maturity at 6-7 years old, and males at 10-12 years old.
*Gestation is 16 months
*Babies stay with mom for 2-4 years

So any given rhino then needs minimally 10 years to successfully reproduce another rhino.

rhino courtship

During courtship, the female chases the male, vocalizing, the pair can become quite aggressive fighting and wrestling before copulation.


*Female elephants reach sexual maturity at 12-16 years old, and males at 10 years old.
*Gestation is 2 years
*Babies stay with mom for 3 years

Any given elephant needs a minimum of 17 years to successfully reproduce another elephant.

elephants courting

Elephants do not choose one mate for life. Their courtships are brief, but affectionate, using gentle nuzzles and gestures.

Breeding During the Poaching Crisis

This means in the midst of widespread poaching, we must assume there ARE rhinos and elephants left  of appropriate age to mate; and that the mother is not killed before giving birth or while nursing.

In rhinos and elephants,  the females mate only after a baby is independent of them (avg of 3 years), but in areas with more prevalent poaching, the animals are stressed. This stress causes them to mate even less often.

Genetic Diversity (Survival of the Fittest)

With tusks and horns worth their weight in gold, a poacher’s goal is the largest tusks and horns he can get his greedy hands on.

The issue with this, is that generally the animals with the largest horns/tusks are also the most genetically strong within their species. Nature has a way of assuring a species’ survival.  When the strongest members of a species are removed, the remaining species will procreate, BUT with “lesser”, substandard genes.

It is too early to be sure of the exact effect this will have on the surviving rhinos and elephants, but surely there will be a consequence.

elephant group in Addo Elephant National Park

Elephant herd in Addo Elephant National Park.

Current Effect

The social hierarchy in elephants is complex and intricate. In a herd, the matriarchs (the oldest adult females) are the glue that hold the group together. They are the leaders, and the backbone. They are also the ones with the largest tusks. Without them, the youngest elephants are vulnerable, and the overall direction and cohesion of the group is lost.

In Secrets of the Savanna, Mark and Delia Owens noted in the Luangwa area, before the onslaught of poaching, elephants did not ovulate until 16 years of age.  Yet after the poaching crisis, females were reproducing at half that age.

In addition, their research indicated that elephants in normal, unstressed populations partook in  allomothering (care given by female relatives other than the mother) which greatly enhanced calf survival, and taught the adolescent females mothering skills. In fractured groups with lesser experienced females, this is not the case.

Nature has an uncanny way of handling adaptation. In high-frequency poaching areas, some groups were also being born tuskless.

Unlike elephants, rhinos don’t have the complex social structure. Therefore, when poaching occurs of a mother, the baby is immediately orphaned, and unless humans step-in, has no chance of survival.

A mother and child rhino pause briefly before crossing the track.

Rhino mother & baby in Leopard Hills Reserve.

Our majestic pachyderms don’t breed like dogs and cats. With only one birth every few years, and multiple deaths on a daily basis, the odds are stacked against them. So while our fight to stop poaching is to prevent death, it is mutually to encourage life.


o reconnect elephants’ natural migratory routes links protected areas together by creating habitat corridors,


Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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