Sign up FAST! Login

Rhino Wars - National Geographic

Stashed in: Africa, @LeoDiCaprio, Pachyderms!, National Geographic

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Hume's idea to farm rhino horn on a large scale would appear to be another in a string of innovative wildlife management practices to come from South Africa. In 1961 officials in Natal Province pioneered the transfer of wild rhinos to private land to increase breeding and genetic diversity. In 1986 the Natal Parks Board allowed excess rhinos from the province's reserves to be auctioned off at fair market value, which brought millions of dollars to local conservation efforts and raised the animals' value among game farmers and hunters. Hume suggests harvesting rhino horn is the next sensible step in preserving and valuing the animals.

As our conversation continues, Hume becomes increasingly agitated. A Vietnamese hunter would happily dart the animal, take the horns, and let it live, he thunders. "But South African law requires the hunter to kill the rhino to export the horn as a trophy." He shakes his head at the illogic.

Among the misconceptions, Hume says, is that ivory and horn are the same. Ivory is an elephant's tooth, while rhino horn is keratin, similar to a horse's hoof. When an elephant's tusk is severed, the nerve inside can become infected, killing the animal. Also, darting an elephant is much more dangerous than darting a rhino, because of its greater size and the protectiveness of its herd.

Conservationists argue that legalizing rhino horn won't change the essential economics of poaching: Poached horn is always going to be cheaper than farmed horn. Hume disagrees: As buyers become confident in the availability of legal horn, prices will fall, which will prompt crime syndicates to leave the business. "The fundamental difference is that poachers go after rhino horn for easy short-term profit. Farmers are in it for years of steady returns."

Some of the resistance, he fears, is a cultural disconnect. "We basically are telling the Vietnamese that it is fine to kill an animal because our tradition of cutting a rhino's head off and putting it on a wall as a decoration is acceptable, but your tradition of cutting off its horn to use for medicine is abominable."

Culture clash? I'm trying to ascertain who's right here.

"Rhino Wars" premiers tonight on Animal Planet.

If you think Animal Planet's "Whale Wars," is intense, just wait until you get a chance to view the dangerous and horrifying world of "Rhino Wars." 

The network recently announced a premiere date for the new three-part series, which pulls the curtain back on the world of animal poaching - and the four former U.S. special forces veterans working to put a stop to it. The mini-series looks to be based on the same special forces that inspired “Dark Knight Rises” star Tom Hardy to come up with the idea of an anti-poaching movie. Back in August, it was announced that Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire were on board to help produce.

“Sources told The Hollywood Reporter, the movie will be modeled after Oscar-nominee “Traffic,” as they hope to tell the story through multiple stories. It will follow all sorts of poaching elements such as, the ground war on poachers in Africa and using animals for fashion.”

I didn't get to see Rhino Wars but it seems like the anti-poaching movement continues. 

You May Also Like: