Sometimes embracing failure is a tactical surrender for a bigger victory. Sometimes it is an innovative approach to a vexing problem. Going backwards to go forwards. These are the qualities that struck me about Kragga Kamma Game Park’s latest resort to protect its rhino population from poachers seeking its valuable horn. Answer: take away the horn. Cutting off the nose to spite the malice. Much as the measure takes away the essential part of this animals’ identity, it does save their life.
One of the greatest tragedies of such poaching is that the entire animal is killed just for a piece of inert tissue. The same issue is at play in the Maldives where shark populations had been hit by over fishing until the government’s recent ban. Like the rhino, the sharks are only fished for their fin which is prized in China for the delicacy of ‘Shark Fin Soup.’ I don’t know if it is directly related to the ban or just coincidence, but we had not seen sharks on the house reefs of our last two visits, but this past week we saw dozens.
I will add another point on the theme I’ve explored here on ‘Black Boxes’. Some people defend ‘holistic’ medicines from around the world that are nothing more than superstitious placebos saying that the crystals/tinctures/incenses do no harm so what’s wrong with them. Forget the deception to the patient that has sometimes tragic consequences. The rhino horn issue (and tiger issue in Asia) demonstrates the enormous cost to the world for these misguided traditions like Chinese ‘Medicine’.
Our children used to enjoy the “When Hippo Was Hairy” series of stories about African animals which provided fanciful tales of how these extraordinary creatures got to be the way they are. The protection programme sets the stage for a further instalment – ‘The Rhino Who Cut Off His Horn’.