The Rhinoceros is one of my favourite animals and I have had some truly excellent experiences with them. As a guide working on a reserve in South Africa that had a large population of White Rhinos, they always provided me with excellent sightings for both me and my guests. However mostly because of poaching they, especially the Black Rhino are highly endangered.
Save the Rhino Campaign
Bud Cockcroft’s “Run Rhino Run” was the theme tune for the very successful “Save the Rhino” Campaign in Zimbabwe in the 1980’s that brought the black rhino back from near extinction. The song brings back loads of memories for me, as it was often played on ZTV’s “Sounds on Saturday”. This video below was filmed back in 1998 at “The Inn Place” at the Holiday Inn, in Harare Zimbabwe, in 1988:
Go to www.budcockcroft.com for more information and to buy Bud Cockcroft’s music including Sunrise in Zimbabwe (the old Air Zim ad), Run Rhino Run music video, and the Dreaming about Zimbabwe.
The lead guitarist, who you catch a glimpse of playing the awesome guitar solo about halfway through the song was called Len Strydom. On a personal note: I used to have guitar lessons with him in his flat in Harare in the early 90’s, If he ever reads this, I would just like to thank him for all his patience and for creating calluses on my fingers that are still with me today! I’d love to hear how he is doing, if anyone knows.
Zimbabwe Black Rhino Conservation
Zimbabwe is home to the fourth largest population of the black rhinos in the world.
Unfortunately with the collapse of the economy and just about everything else, there has also been a massive increase in poaching. Poaching of black and white rhinos in Zimbabwe has more than doubled in the past year and organized poaching gangs may have literally been getting away with murder. Not only do the poachers slaughter rhinos, but they have also been firing on the people who try to protect them. According to Save the Rhino, the London-based organization which supports on-going rhino conservation through financial and in-kind support, the combined population of black and white rhinos was about 830 at the end of 2007, but by December 2008, the numbers had fallen to about 740, despite good birth rates. Already in 2009, 18 rhinos have been slaughtered by poachers who kill the one- ton animals for their horn. Because of collapsing law-enforcement efforts, not a single Zimbabwean rhino poacher has been sentenced in a court during the past three years.
By the end of 2008, eighty percent of Zimbabwe’s black rhinos and half of its white rhinos were located in the lowveld. These large tracts of land, converted from cattle ranches to wildlife management areas, were created to safeguard the rhino. Despite recent losses, the lowveld conservancies, monitored by the Lowveld Rhino Trust and linked with Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, still hold 360 black rhinos and provide the best hope for their survival. >> More Information
If you would like to help save the rhino, you can get involved by working as a volunteer on Real Gap’s ‘Black Rhino Conservation Project.’ This ‘save the rhino’ project is based in the beautiful Midlands of Zimbabwe and is endorsed by the WWF. Volunteers help save the rhino by helping out with important day-to-day tasks such as monitoring the local black rhino population out in the field and recording relevant data. The type of people working on this ‘save the rhino’ projects ranges from local Zimbabweans through to other volunteers and respected conservationists. As well as doing your bit to save the rhino it’s also a great way to experience ‘real’ African culture and meet both local people and other like-minded fellow travellers.
The efforts of ‘save the rhino’ campaigns such as this one in Zimbabwe will hopefully help stabilise the black rhino population. However the fight to save the rhino is very much an on-going process and there is no room whatsoever for complacency. By getting involved with this fantastic project you can do your bit to save the rhino for future generations of visitors to Africa. >> More Information
Other Wildlife Volunteer Programs in Africa
If you are interested in volunteering with wildlife, take a look at my guide to Volunteering Wildlife Work in Africa on the Safari Guide website.
White Rhino and a young calf. I took this photo whilst working at Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa