A new perception of rhino poaching. Please read.

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A new perception of rhino poaching. Please read.

Postby Sfourie » Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:57 pm

Found this article on Pot-shot, a news letter for SA's Hunters.



Dr Fowlds tells the story of how he was “forced into a personal experience of the most horrific, man-inflicted animal suffering. An experience that has affected me
beyond what I thought was possible… I still struggle to contain and express the emotions burned within me that churn to the surface every time I talk about that day.

“I don’t expect to make sense of it, or the similar rhino deaths that take place daily in my country. I do intend to ensure that the account of this one rhino’s tragic end, will reach into the conscience and hearts of all men and woman, and compel each of us to do something towards stopping the suffering of this magnificent species and others like it.

“I count myself truly blessed to be able to live my dream as a wildlife vet in a part of Africa that satisfies my senses and fills my soul. One of my many privileges is that I get to work with rhino in the wild. These living dinosaurs are truly iconic symbols of our successes and failures as custodians of this planet. The current
rhino situation is a dying testimony of our conservation efforts. If we are not able to save the rhino from extinction, this flagship species that’s larger than life, what hope do we have of saving the rest?”

He then relates the story of how he was called to the Kariega Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape after a rhino had been poached. “My heart sank, as I relived that dreadful feeling, a few months before, which had hit me when news of a rhino poaching on my own game reserve came through. Knowing how slow the initial crime scene proceedings can take, I expressed my heart-felt remorse and said I would get there later in the morning.

“There was a silent pause before the sledge-hammer... ‘William, he is still alive!” Images of the hacked bone and bloodied tissues I had seen previously came flooding back, doubting the truth of this outrageous claim. As I fumbled for questions to check my own doubts, the description of this poor animal began to take shape. The horns are gone, it’s a bloody mess’…

“I had seen one picture of a rhino who had suffered the same fate and the anger when I saw it the first time, crowded my thoughts as I tried to listen to directions and get my planned day out of the way.

“As I drove rapidly for 30 minutes following the directions; the location, the description and the circumstances around this animal started to sound familiar. I remembered that two rhino from my own reserve, Amakhala, had been moved to Kariega three years before and had been joined by another two animals from a different reserve, making a sub-adult group of four rhino.

“At least one of these four, was now in an unthinkable situation and I prayed it wasn’t one I knew. On approaching the location where the rhino had last been seen, I was struck by the tranquil beauty of the place. A small, open area alongside a meandering river with broken vegetation joining up into thickets of valley bushveld on the hill
slopes. A picture-book setting which could have been used to depict a piece of heaven. It just didn’t seem possible that somewhere here, there was an animal that was going through a living hell…

“The horror of that first encounter will remain branded in my memory forever. In a small clearing enclosed by bush stood an animal hardly recognisable as a rhino. His profile completely changed by the absence of those iconic horns attributed to no other species. More nauseating than that, the skull and soft tissue trauma extended down into the remnants of his face, through the outer layer of bones, to expose the underlying nasal passages.

“Initially he stood on three legs with his mouth on the ground. Then he became more aware of my presence and lifted his head up revealing pieces of loose flesh which hung semi-detached from his deformed and bloodied face. He struggled forward and turned in my direction, his left front leg provided no support and could only be dragged behind him. To compensate for this, he used his mutilated muzzle and nose as a crutch and staggered forward toward me. His one eye was injured and clouded over, adding to his horrific appearance.

“At first I stood shocked in front of the sight before me, then I struggled to comprehend the extent and implications of the jagged edges and plunging cavities extending into his skull. As he shuffled closer in my direction, now scarcely 15 meters away, the realisation of his pain overwhelmed me. I had been so stunned by the inconceivable, I had neglected to consider the pain. What possible way could I have any reference of understanding the agony he was in?

“How long had he been like this? Were his efforts to approach me a weakened attempt of aggression towards the source of his suffering or was there a
desperate comprehension of finality, a broken spirit crying out to die.

“I crouched down trying to steady my shaking hand which held the camera, as I realised that this was possibly Geza, the young rhino I had sent to this sanctuary
three years ago. Thoughts and emotions raged through my head. How low had we fallen to inflict so much suffering on such a magnificent creature whose care had
been entrusted to us? Could any reason justify this happening? Without thinking I apologised under my breath, ‘I am sorry boy, I am so, so sorry.’

“His breathing quickened in response to the sound. Was he trying to smell me, was this their characteristic huffing which is part of natural investigatory behaviour or was this a pathetic version of rhino aggression in response to a source of threat. I was close enough to see the blood bubbling inside his skull cavities and wondered how every breath must add to the agony, the cold air flowing over inflamed tissues and exposed nerves.

“I expected at any moment for his suffering to snap into a full blown rage, but it never came. I backed away slowly and he kept staggering in my direction, not
showing any aggression, just one agonising effort after another. For a moment the thought even crossed my mind that this animal, in an incomprehensible
amount of pain, acting completely out of character, could be desperately seeking something, anything, to take away the pain.

“I didn’t trust my own eyes to recall the detail of these injuries and so I recorded some images, and backed away from this vortex of emotions and pain. On the
walk back to the vehicle… the weight of responsibility began to descend on my shoulders. This poor animal, suffering at the hands of my own species, through at least one night of absolute agony, now relied on me for relief from this torture. My gut instincts told me he had little chance of healing even though I had experienced rhino making some spectacular recoveries from severe injuries. I recalled having heard of a few other cases of rhino having survived and scrambled for the details somewhere in my swirling mind.

“Thinking I should be fairly hardened to trauma and the sight of poached rhino and mutilated bodies, I had to re-assess my own reaction to what I had just seen. This
took things to a new level. This stirred up anger and despair and regret and shame more than anything I had ever experienced. This brought the suffering of this and many other rhino right into the living room of my soul.

“Surely, I would never be able to think of a rhino poaching in the same way ever again. If we are shaped by our experiences, then this experience was a watershed
moment in my life. Part of that watershed was out of my control, but the other part involved decisions which were optional and would take me across an ethical
line which had been formed by a lifetime of nurturing and training.”

Dr Fowlds then made three recommendations:

* There was no chance of saving this life and the most humane thing to do would be to end this tragedy by euthanasia for this animal.
* I asked for time to consult with some of the other vets who had
experienced similar survivors just in case there might be some hope for this
* I asked if they would consider allowing the world to see the horrendous suffering that was taking place a short distance from where we stood. The practicalities, though, would involve getting a camera on site to take broadcast quality footage, something that would take a few hours to happen in this remote part of the reserve.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

“Help us spread the word on what is happening to the species by getting this message out to those who believe that the rhino horn is a valuable product that can enhance their well-being.”

FREE EBOOK: Please Read! Please Share!
By Dr. William Fowlds ~ Compliments of Nikela ~ http://www.Nikela.org
A Shangaan legend states that any man resting or sleeping in the shade of a baobab will become eccentric and forever be enslaved by Africa and its wilderness, guess it's too late for me.
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Re: A new perception of rhino poaching. Please read.

Postby vuduman » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:13 pm

Wow!That has to be one of the saddest things I ever read.What has become of humanity?Thanks for sharing.
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Re: A new perception of rhino poaching. Please read.

Postby Ryuu » Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:28 am

I truly struggle to fathom how people could ever do that that to any living animal.. it just sickens me.. takes me back to the emotions i had when i saw what people did to some snakes... and the ones i had to kill cause they mutilated them so badly.. what on earth is this world coming to???
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Re: A new perception of rhino poaching. Please read.

Postby Jimbo » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:30 am

Wow! Very powerful account of the event.
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