William Saunderson-Meyer
William Saunderson-Meyer

Sticking a rhino horn to China’s Giant Panda

Developing nations don’t hold much truck with wildlife conservation for sentimental or scientific reasons. In places where human existence itself can be nasty, brutal and short, animals are butchered without compunction and often with thoughtless cruelty.

They are clubbed, shot, stabbed, fished, or slaughtered with zero regard to the long term effects on species survival. Unless, of course, their continued existence holds promise to humans of an eventual monetary bonanza.

Given then what nations do to their own animals, how much easier when the beastly extermination takes place in far-away foreign lands? Out of sight and out of mind of the squeamish, but never out of pocket for those who trade in exotic animal parts.

The Asian nations appear to have insatiable appetites. If it moves, eat it. Or if you can’t eat it — tiger bone, rhino horn, elephant tusks — turn it into a potion imagined to cure any ailment, from headaches to cancer.

Hence the particularly dire plight of South Africa’s rhino. After being rescued from the brink of extinction in the 1970s, largely through the determination of a single man, Dr Ian Player, they are once more critically endangered.

The Chinese believe, falsely, that powdered rhino horn is an aphrodisiac. The Vietnamese believe, falsely, it to be a hangover preventative. Such banality as the cause of such barbarism.

At $55 000 a kilogram, rhino horn has, according to an Associated Press report, become the ‘must-have’ luxury item of the Asian noveau riche. As a direct consequence, at least 448 rhinos were poached in SA in 2011 and another 150 in the first quarter of this year.

Now the fight is being taken to the enemy camp. A group of SA activists, the Wildside Warriors, has launched an anti-poaching campaign aimed directly at Chinese consumers of rhino horn.

Durban designer Torsten Fehsenfeld conceived for the campaign a provocative magazine and online advertisement, that appears in both English and Mandarin, featuring a Giant Panda. It has just been published in Wildside, the Enzemvelo KZN Wildlife magazine. One wouldn’t want to spoil the punch line, suffice that the gutsy ad will undoubtedly irritate those government knuckleheads who cravenly lean over backwards to avoid offending China in any way.

Watch the Wildside Warrior Video of the campaign poster.

This is no Kony 2012 call to arms. It’s clearly a low budget, volunteer affair and the conservationist activists are relying on social media to spread the message far and wide and ratchet public pressure.

As much as the stolen children of Uganda, this is an advert and a campaign that really deserve to go viral. If for no other reason that, unlike Kony 2012, the Wildside approach is not premised on the big-brother West riding to the rescue of poor Africa.

Instead it asks no more than the Chinese — and the other Asian countries, like Vietnam, that tolerate horn-poaching — take personal responsibility for what they are doing. As Fehsenfeld puts it, “This is not meant to be tit-for-tat. It’s with frustration and sense of helplessness that we have watched the slaughter of this African treasure.”

“The end users of rhino horn, mostly in Asia, may well be ignorant of the true value of this magnificent animal, which is an integral part of our national heritage. This is an attempt to change grassroot consumer behaviour.”

Thus speaks perhaps the naiveté of idealism. But given that SA is incapable or unwilling to exert diplomatic pressure on those plundering our natural resources, and given that the line cannot be held against poachers able to suborn the very guards, veterinarians, and farmers who are pledged to protect the rhino, what else to do? All that remains is idealism.

As Player notes in a moving interview in Africa Geographic, it is not going to be easy to change superstitions about the efficacy of rhino horn that are more than 2 000 years old. But Player himself has already proved what just one idealistic man can do. Maybe, just maybe, we collectively can shame China and Vietnam into curbing their horny appetites.

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  • 35 Responses to “Sticking a rhino horn to China’s Giant Panda”

    1. “Maybe, just maybe, we collectively can shame China and Vietnam into curbing their horny appetites.”
      Yeah right! Before you take on those foreigners about there treatment of ANIMALS, how about shaming our own beneficiaries of apartheid for their horny appetites for land and their treatment of our fellow HUMANS, still dispossessed of their own lands.
      I wonder why you still haven’t offered practical solutions for land reform even though this is an explosive issue that could cost thousand of lives. Remember charity begins at home!

      April 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm
    2. Judith #

      Dave – your usual drivel! When the highly offensive patriarchal tribal system is removed and the people cultivating the tribal lands are given ownership much of the problem will have been removed.

      Now to the rhino and Wildside – they are looking after a valuable heritage and an animal which may become extinct. Currently I do not believe the human race anywhere is likely to become extinct, although it deserves to in many places

      April 7, 2012 at 8:08 pm
    3. Karney #

      Oh Boy Dave, give it a break; does every thought leader column have to become a peg for you to hang your worn out words onto. We all know by now how bitter and resentful you feel about our past , but please don’t make us all embarrassed for you. This is about the plight of our endangered rhinos and possible solutions , nothing more .

      April 7, 2012 at 11:27 pm
    4. Benzo #

      Dear David (Harris), you seem to have mastered the art of riding on the wrong side of the road. I do hope you do not have a car this weekend.

      April 8, 2012 at 1:19 am
    5. MLH #

      @ Dave Harris: since you continually demand solutions from others, perhaps you have ideas of your own that you’re dying to put forward? Write a column about the issues that bother you and we can all decide whether or not we want to read it.

      Great ad, but that poor nose was too gently treated by comparison!

      April 8, 2012 at 9:55 am
    6. John #

      Thanks for this article, and for the link to the anti-rhino poaching ad. Sadly, your claim that “Developing nations don’t hold much truck with wildlife conservation” is, only part of the story – developed nations, who don’t have the excuse that killing animals is somehow necessary for survival of indigenous people (a pathetic excuse & totally false but when you’re morally bankrupt you still have to say something, I guess), are equally guilty of clubbing, shooting, stabbing, fishing, or slaughtering “with zero regard to the long term effects on species survival” – just look at the US and its appalling removal of protection for its wolf populations, Japan, & Canada, to name a few. Indeed, it was Kenya that stood up to the bloodshed by placing a moratorium on trophy hunting, only to be bullied by the overpaid and overfed poachers of America (also known as hunters). The SA gvt and Sanparks are also to blame for the rhino carnage – Sanparks has been selling off rhino to hunting lodges for years, and very likely even fulled the current demand for rhino horn — one has to ask why the poaching has escalated only in recent years.

      Why don’t you next write a column on the LEGAL carnage that is taking place against our wildlife right now – hundreds of thousands of animals, including threatened species, die hideous deaths – by poison, hunting dogs, and in agony in gin traps. Perhaps caracal are not as sexy as rhino, but they are still deserving of our moral attention.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:07 am
    7. Jon Story #

      Re DH as I said last week he only has one piece of meat and he keeps turning it over and over until even the dog does not want it any more.
      Not that there is anything wrong with the piece of meat, certain things have to be addressed but as the ´Preacher´ once said there is a time for everything.

      ´

      April 8, 2012 at 11:35 am
    8. Charlotte #

      @ WSM
      You have written a remarkable, albeit depressing, article with many lines worth remembering: ie ‘Such banality is the cause of such cruelty’.

      There is a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness when one reads that many of those involved in these despicable deeds are guards, rangers and vetinarians pledged to protect this precious endangered species. Their penchant for animal frailty and cruelty is overwhelming and incomprehensible.
      The killing of rhinos is not a ‘survival mechanism’ for human beings – there are many other means for us to survive. But humans take away the only means ofthe rhinos’ survivial, by killing them.

      It is dispiriting to think of ‘idealism’ as a last resort. Is one born with conscience? Are some people devoid of it? Does it develop with character? Is it that collectively, greed provokes any form of conscience to fall away?

      At a time particularly of Christian and Jewish religious affiliation and expression. (Easter and Passoever), it would be relevant and refreshing if religions and religious groups would make themselves heard and stand up in the forefront in this fight for right-doing, morilty and conscience.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm
    9. Charlotte #

      @ WSM
      Having said that – and speaking of which – and eaten up with curiosity …
      … “One wouldn’t want to spoil the punchline, suffice that the gutsy ad will undoubtedly irritate those goverment knuckleheads who are instinctively craven about offending China in any way” …
      PLEASE – just for us, your faithful readers – and just for once – put away your scruples, go ahead and spoil the punchline (it possibly won’t be the first time), and describe the advert for us….

      And if it is really a line which you won’t cross, at least tell us where the ad will be appearing.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm
    10. Dale Roberts #

      Actually rhino horn is NOT considered an aphrodisiac but it is thought to have many medicinal properties – the most frightening being a cure for cancer. It is also thought to cure headaches. The rhino handle of a dagger is thought to imbue the owner with the characteristics of the rhino. Education and enforcement is the only solution to this hiatus. We need to highlight our abhorrence for rhino products till governments take cognisance of our revulsion and committ themselves to dedicated and punitive retaliation. The fear factor needs to be created. Thank you for your article. If enough of us revolt against the apathy thus far displayed we could bring about a “Kony” rebellion.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm
    11. Torsten #

      Hi Charlotte,

      the advert (and more info about it) can be viewed here:

      http://www.wildsidesa.co.za/content/bodydetail.php?id=4

      and here:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4tFgzffhxc

      April 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm
    12. AL #

      Hear, hear!!! Brilliant article. My Dad had a lot to do with Ian Player and the Rhino conservation project so I have grown up with the ups and downs of this campaign. Here is wishing them everything of the best. And thanks for an excellent article.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm
    13. ConCision #

      IN THE NAME OF THE GAME
      or
      WHEN THE PROTECTOR BECOMES THE PREDATOR
      or
      BEYOND SHAME

      Do not lay blame
      On superstition or greed
      It is what it is:
      An evil deed

      Do not lay blame
      On stupidity or poverty
      Call it what it is:
      Debased barbarity

      Savage, pitiless and inhumane
      Brutal, uncivilised and insane
      It is degenerate and sinful
      It is beyond shame

      April 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm
    14. “@ Dave Harris: since you continually demand solutions from others, perhaps you have ideas of your own that you’re dying to put forward?”

      Heck we all love our pets, but isn’t it so very interesting that many beneficiaries of apartheid show more love for animals than our own fellow human beings, dispossessed from their lands now living among us in abject poverty? William Saunderson Meyer puts in all the time and energy into lambasting our government and a host of other “social ills” and now fighting to save the Rhino but not a single article on urgent issue of land reform!!! Why?

      April 10, 2012 at 6:28 pm
    15. Charlotte #

      @ Torsten. Thank you.
      I have e-mailed your links for the rhino adverts to everyone on my mailing-list, asking them to do likewise. No doubt many readers of Thought Leader who have looked at the advertisements will also have done so, or will be doing the same.
      E-mails work fast and effectively. Here’s hoping it helps in expediting the results you are looking for, as well as that which Dale Roberts correctly advocates: education and enforcement.

      Will these advertisements be appearing in any of the daily newspapers?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:50 pm
    16. Peter Joffe #

      I do not try to take credit from the great Dr. Ian Player but he could not have done what he did without the help of, among others, Clive Walker, The Endangered Wildlife Trust, The Rhino and Elephant Foundation, The Namibia Wildlife Trust and WWF. Now, after all these years to see bribery and corruption undoing all the good that was done is a crime against humanity, never mind a crime against the nation. Poaching should be declared treason because it is sabotaging the tourist industry that benefits all South Africans. In the future when all that is left is ashes, who is going to visit South Africa that will have joined the other African States as ‘once were counties”?
      It’s a national shame and a worldwide shame that we destroy all that is good to satisfy the greedy and the stupid. If the trade in Rhino Horn is legalized all that it will do is make it cheaper for the poachers to kill a Rhino than to buy and sell a horn. Stop this madness NOW whilst we still have a chance. Would it not be a blessing to all mankind if Corruption, Greed, Ignorance and Crime itself became extinct?
      Extinction is forever!!

      April 11, 2012 at 9:18 am
    17. david hurst #

      Is Dave Harris kept on as a part of a comedic routine. Is it a test of an ANC response algorithm? Has the man no shame. The Rhino is emblematic of the true decline of Africa into overpopulation and abismal governance, world recogonized outside of Harare and certain circles of SA. The human condition has been well known for quite some time and will not likely change much shortly. However, mans part in the sixth great extinction, and the accelleration of that extinction, is well known to those outside of ANC HIV squash and shower science, in particular whinging Dave.

      The story with the Rhinos is esentially the same as four years ago, namely, nothing has been done. The difference in the story is that this indicator species, that speaks for all natural Africa, is becoming known, even to a government more concerned with who sits at the table where. As Asia coddles national symbols like the near extinct Panda, pay off local African tribal leaders for water rights and land, pay for Mugabe’s bday party year before last and all ammunition needed for the ‘erection’, wildlife in southern Africa will not be. The likes of Dave Harris and his Utopia by AK will be required to actually work for something real, like land productivity in Zimbabwe, more food assistance to Zim, cholera, exodus of skilled workers, rampant known rhino for dollars ‘hunting’ tourism, farms as patronage to dictatorship. Different day, same news, have a look back four years. Exactly the same.

      April 11, 2012 at 12:17 pm
    18. @David Hurst
      “The Rhino is emblematic of the true decline of Africa into overpopulation and abismal governance”

      Hmmm….using your infantile logic one could say that the “Bald Eagle is emblematic of the true decline of America into overpopulation and abismal governance”
      See the absurdity of your argument?

      April 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm
    19. DFB #

      I am in China at the moment teaching at a university and there is no awareness of this issue at a popular level in any way. Its very remote and even a Rhino requires a great deal of explanation to students.Industrial megacities are concretë jungles. Africa is so remote and just not on the radar it would require quite a lot of information engineering to breakthrough here..
      South Africa’s conservationism was always divided between the hunter and the conservationists historically.Player and the others had a terrible struggle to be heard in late 50′s and early 60′s. Kruger had to be persuaded that the KNP was a good idea! There were long standing historical rifts somehow I am not surpised by the complicity of the boeities from Ondersterpoort. I grew up in its shadow next to the experimental farm in Pretoria.

      This comment has been edited.

      April 12, 2012 at 6:48 am
    20. Peter Joffe #

      The year is 2020 and the worldwide advertising campaign will be:-
      Come to South Africa and see the Big 5!
      1) The giant Johannesburg Rat that eats cats for breakfast.
      2) The Marabou Stork that keeps City dumps and streets clean.
      3) The White Backed Vulture that is fat and overfed on the carrion of yesterday’s Big 5.
      4) The Giant Cockroach that are everywhere to be seen and admired. They even sit still to be photographed.
      5) The Giant Blue fly that lays its eggs in all the rotting flesh of once wonderful African Wildlife.
      Get to South Africa NOW before the new Big 5 also become extinct.

      April 12, 2012 at 7:52 am
    21. The Creator #

      Essentially, it seems to me that the problem is government neglect on the South African side. Dave Harris would be right if the government were focussing its attention on the people and therefore using up resources which could otherwise be used to save rhinoes — but unfortunately it isn’t, as far as I can see. Instead, the rhinoes are being sacrificed because of poor management at game reserves. And I’m very worried about this growing talk about how we need to sell horns commercially so as to save the rhino — “rhino ranching” — which relies ultimately on the belief that the government can’t do anything about the situation.

      Fact is, the government could save the rhino if it really wanted to. Just as the Asian governments — especially Vietnam, it’s said — could prevent the trade in rhino horns if they really wanted to.

      Although I also have heard that Yemen imports rhino horn for ornamental dagger-handles.

      April 12, 2012 at 10:48 am
    22. Carl Chessman #

      Talk about being bitter and twisted!
      Is there any subject on God’s earth that William Saunderson-Meyer could write about which would not be twisted into an insult by anti-white racist troll ‘ Dave Harris’?
      DH. provokes in order to divert. He diverts in order to insult.

      The topic was about the poaching, massacre and extinction of rhinos.
      Once again and particularly disheartening in this case, the subject was rerouted by ‘DH’ to land reform and then to the utter rubbish that the “Bald Eagle is emblematic of the true decline of America into overpopulation and abismal (sic) governance”. (Hell! he could be describing South Africa under the ANC)

      Animals should not be abused – neither should human beings.
      As disconcerting and discouraging as it is for readers to have to swallow ‘D.H’s churlish same-old same-old divisive racist accusations week after week – one can imagine how it must be for any author to have to deal with this.

      Whereas Thought Leader makes allowance for comment – from compliments to correction, complaints and even criticism – there is a line between that and blatantly rude racial remarks.

      One wonders why “DH’ is allowed to continue unabated diverting any topic with his insulting anti-white racist propoganda.

      April 12, 2012 at 11:56 am
    23. @Carl Chessman
      Remember this is the New South Africa where free speech rights are enshrined in our Constitution. So unlike the apartheid regime that you’re so used to, now anyone the right to voice dissenting opinions.

      Even this topic “Sticking a rhino horn to China’s Giant Panda” reveals an underlying violent streak and disrespect for other cultures. Gandhi said something like: “An eye for an eye eventually turns the whole world blind.”

      Like environmentalists all over the world do, we too should be engaging proactively and RESPECTFULLY with other nations to change attitudes towards the protection of our environment. This utter hypocrisy from our usual suspects becomes nauseating.

      April 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm
    24. RH #

      @Dave Harris
      I don’t like humans, particularly the sort that think that other species have less right to existence.
      Yes I do have more love for animals than our own fellow human beings. Just look at how humans behave – pillaging and destroying and consuming.
      But that aside, caring about animals does not exclude caring about humans.
      You will find that those who have compassion for animals tend to do more for humans; it has also been proven that there is a strong link between cruelty to animals and cruelty to other humans – eg domestic violence.
      Our corrupt government also doesn’t give a rats arse about humans – all they care about is lining their own pockets. Think about the Dalai Lama debacle – human rights are low on their priority list.
      They bend over for the Chinese and take backhanders to turn a blind eye to poaching and rhino horn smuggling.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:40 am
    25. Carl Chessman #

      @ anti-white racist troll, “Dave Harris’
      Again you twist things: “Sticking a rhino horn to China’s Giant Panda” reveals an underlying violent streak and disrespect for other cultures” … Rubbish!
      and
      ” … we too should be engaging proactively and RESPECTFULLY …. to change attitudes …”
      COMING FROM YOU, THAT’S A JOKE!

      You are crass, rude, insulting and abusive – and boring. You don’t stop whinging,
      whining, groaning, moaning, distorting and laying blame on everything and anyone – the only criteria being that they’re white – and with what appears to be a personal vendetta against this particular writer. You attack him with blind accusations and personal insults- why? because he is white?..
      If he wrote about baking cakes, you’d flog him for separating the whites from the yolks.
      For those who fought with Helen Suzman & Byers Naude etc. against apartheid, people like you, with your hate-filled reverse-racism, are an anathema.

      Provided you turn a blind eye to their immorality, nepotism and incompetency, you have all the ANC’s crooked mechanisms at your disposal to enrich yourself and your ‘ilk’.
      Stop blaming whites for everything to absolve disgraceful ANC governance. Condemn violence and crime. Condemn corruption. Condemn your proposed Minister of Police (this one getting away literally with murder ) Condemn how people suffer under the dishonesty and greed of the ANC.

      Trying to present yourself as a ‘do-gooder’ is the…

      April 13, 2012 at 10:40 am
    26. Carl Chessman #

      to complete @ anti-white racist troll ‘Dave Harris’

      Trying to present yourself as a ‘do-gooder’ is the ultimate hypocricy.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:44 am
    27. For Heavens Sake! The best way to preserve the rhino is to farm them! Why do you think the Dodo was hunted to extinction, but there are still thousands of ostriches?

      The Rhino’s horn is only matted hair and actually grows back, so if these Asian morons want to pay millions, farm the horns – remove them under anesthetic and let them grow back again!

      April 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm
    28. Charlotte #

      What is amusing is ‘DH’s remonstration: “Remember this is the New South Africa”

      Yes. This IS the new Anti-Racist Equal Opportunity South Africa.
      He should remember that.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm
    29. @RH
      You’re right in that the lack of compassion surfaces in one’s treatment of animals as well, however the converse is not necessarily true – showing compassion to animals means that you have compassion to humans.
      Many mass murders have shown extreme compassion to their animal pets that they own and control.

      In SA and many other class based societies, there are many instances of house pets being treated better than the servants.
      Disrespect for other cultures and love of material wealth is a greater predictor of one’s compassion for other human beings.

      @Carl Chessman
      Seems like I hit a spot somewhere. LOL
      btw. I never heard of great souls like Helen Suzman & Byers Naude ever speaking against your fabricated “black racism” the way you do.

      This comment has been edited.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm
    30. Carl Chessman #

      @ racist troll Dave Harris.
      Again the subterfuge; again the deviousness; again the diviseness; again the distortion:
      Many whites, including Helen Zille, fought against apartheid and for a non-racial South Africa: The ANC were not in power then. They now are – and look what they’ve done with it! Your turning your eyes away from the mess in front of you, ignoring all the wrong-doing and playing your usual insolent game of ‘the best form of defence is attack’, makes you exactly what I have described.

      Do your absurd annotations and incessant racial insults and insinuations help the people who are duped by the ANC into believing they would will still have a better life when everthing is in a shambles?
      And w.t.f. has “shaming our beneficiaries of apartheid for their horny appetites for land” have to do with rhinos? …. Oh, now I get it! ‘horny’.
      Yeah. LOL

      .

      April 13, 2012 at 8:24 pm
    31. Save the Rhino #

      God spare the readers from the boredom, the inanity, the lack of logic, the abusiveness and the sheer dumbness of reading ‘Dave Harris’. There is only one theme – how terrible white people are. It is boring in the extreme – even the Nazi propagandists had more than one theme.

      April 15, 2012 at 10:30 am
    32. david hurst #

      Well, another Dave Harris dominated commentary. @Dave, my comment was good regarding poor governance reflected in the corruption and ignorant desicration of an indicator species, amongst them the rhino, and including its habitat. The Bald eagle is another good indicator species that reveals government being out of touch, as has been shown on many levels and many broad situations. Here, it is pointed out that colusion with poachers by government agents; reserves often used as horn collection scams with rhino’s just shot in the head, government authorized; until recently no real international concideration by the government for the obvious desicration of nature in southern, indeed all of Africa, is a part of systemic ‘there is no problem’, some even proposing turning Africa in to a fenced off zoo/wildlife preserve. In response, “Infantile”, is Dave Harris far too often becoming the center here over many years, of distraction from serious commentary. “The Rhino is emblematic of the true decline of Africa into overpopulation and abismal governance”. Period, again as before, the pesky fly landing on one’s nose.

      April 15, 2012 at 11:19 am
    33. RH #

      @Dave Harris
      Yes, true – showing compassion towards animals does not necessarily mean that that you have compassion for humans. I cited myself as an example. Humans have given me no reason to like them and they still don’t.

      Humans are not the pinnacle of evolution and do not have more right to survive than any other species.

      In fact humans are the most destructive, horrible species on this planet today, driving mass extinction.

      If you care so much about humans, then you go do something for humans.
      Don’t tell people who care about animals to do that.

      Anyway, which mass murderers have treated their pets so well – do tell?
      Many serial killers started off by killing animals.

      April 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm
    34. jesus #

      This rhino poaching is a farce.Local south africans are the real culprits from your
      vet,vet spouses,game farm owners (struggling financially or greedy farm owner) to
      your neighbourhood lawyer.
      They apparently see nothing wrong in this “poaching” of rhinos and every other species in africa and anywhere else in the world.

      Even your local corporates pushing local homeopathic medicines have some form of
      animal or insect species in its ingredients.

      April 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm
    35. I followed up this campaign in January 2013, with their permission. Take a look: http://gareth6pike.wix.com/contentdiscontent … … …

      February 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm

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