Hofmeyr Calls for More Efforts to Save Rhinos

| December 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Internationally-acclaimed rhino conservation specialist and wildlife veterinarian, Dr Markus Hofmeyr says the conservation of rhinos, as endangered species, require consolidated efforts.

Rhinos had been around for many millions of years and their future survival lie in our hands,” he added.

In his keynote address at the Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) annual gala dinner dance on December 5, Dr Hofmeyr highlighted Botswana’s unique placement as a safe haven for rhinos in the war against poaching and shared his experiences and work in rhino conservation in South Africa in his presentation titled: Rhino Conservation Strategy-A-Regional Approach.

He said rhinos were quite robust animals and survived very easily if put in the right conditions, so the single biggest threat to these species was poaching at the hand of man.

“The challenges we have with any of the rhino conservation interventions is we need to reintegrate the rhinos back into a breeding free range of the rhino population. And ultimately we want to see a situation where rhinos are free ranging and breeding by themselves. That is we can actually protect these species and any other endangered species in the future,” he said.

Rhinos, Dr Hofmeyr said were also important and mattered, because they played an important role within ecosystems.

He said they engineer certain types of habitats and years ago they had also played an active role in shaping the landscapes they lived in “and at the hand of man it basically removed that ecological engineer”.

He said it was important to re-establish that engineer in the areas where they could still survive. The specie rhinos, he said also created quite an important component, as flagship species, because they attracted people to visit parks and enjoy the environment.

In South Africa and Namibia, in particular, he said rhinos were also very critical species for revenue generation through the sustainable principles of selling, buying and owning rhinos.

Ninety-five per cent of all remaining black and white rhinos, Dr Hofmeyr said occur in Southern Africa, “so we really have to make sure that they survive.”

With the number of poaching events escalating daily, he said he was committed to working with Botswana in its endevour to save rhinos and ensure they were conserved.

In his welcome remarks, KCS chairman and also De Beers executive director, Mr Neo Moroka said the rhinos were in danger of extinction mainly due to heartless poaching driven by selfish commercial interests.

“Apparently, because of its aphrodisiac power, the rhino horn is a highly sought after commodity, especially in the eastern countries,” he said. Mr Moroka said it was only for this reason that over the years there had been massive poaching of rhinos in the region- leading to the species becoming endangered.

As KCS, he said their mandate was to promote knowledge, research and awareness of Botswana’s natural resources. In the context of the dinner dance theme, KCS chairperson said there was great need to save the rhino, adding that KCS was involved in a youth development and rhino conservation project in Northern Botswana.

The project, sponsored by Barclays Bank of Botswana, he said was firstly aimed at addressing the issue of youth unemployment and secondly at introduction of rhinos in to areas where they previously existed, but had not been seen for generations.

In addition, Mr Moroka said the project would focus on providing out of school youth with training that would enable them to work as game rangers and guides in areas with rhino populations and also educate communities living adjacent to rhino areas on the importance of the species in tourism and the need therefore to protect it.

“We at KCS see this kind of education as essential if we are to have sustainable populations of wildlife,” he added. KCS is Botswana’s longest standing environmental non-governmental organisation, inaugurated in 1982 to conserve Botswana’s biodiversity resources and habitats.

The other objectives of KCS are to leverage the economic value of wildlife and natural resources for the prosperity of all, especially local people who reside in wildlife-rich localities and inspire a generation of environmentally conscious citizens who strive for a healthy balance between human wellbeing (of present and future generations) and healthy ecosystems.

The society had grown to become an internationally recognised leader in the country’s conservation efforts through nationwide environmental education, aocacy, research and conservation projects.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: General

Leave a Reply