Rhino horn, man­hood and fin­ger­nails

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion & Analysis - Is­dore Gu­va­mombe Re­flec­tions

IN the vil­lage, the size of the snake is ir­rel­e­vant to its ca­pac­ity to kill but that fact is mostly ig­nored when one sud­denly bumps into a snake. Again, in the vil­lage, the snake is so feared that it is never men­tioned by its name at night; it is called a string, for, talk of the devil and he will ap­pear. There is a sub­ject that has been chew­ing chunks from this vil­lager’s heart and con­science for too long, and it is men’s ob­ses­sion with aphro­disi­acs.

Back in the vil­lage, in the land of milk, honey and dust or Gu­ruve if you like, men spend most of their free time brag­ging about their man­hood and their var­i­ous abil­i­ties to use it.

This vil­lager knows that this is quite a pre­oc­cu­pa­tion for the many men from the pot-bellied to the pen­cil-slim, from the tall to the short ones and in­deed from the ugly to the most hand­some, ev­ery one brags about his abil­ity and no one ac­cepts in­abil­ity.

The pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with bed­room an­tics has, of late, led to the near ex­tinc­tion of the rhino, whose horn is, un­for­tu­nately, be­lieved to be some strong aphro­disiac.

But the vil­lage sooth­sayer, the age­less au­tochthon of wis­dom and knowl­edge, in­sists men are a silly lot, killing an en­tire five-tonne rhino to find a sup­posed so­lu­tion to their sex­ual in­ad­e­qua­cies.

Some men, ur­ban­ites and vil­lagers in­cluded, be­lieve that the rhino horn has medic­i­nal or even mag­i­cal prop­er­ties and this is the sole rea­son the rhino has been poached to near ex­tinc­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Kar­itun­dundu, the vil­lage sooth­sayer, this is mere myth.

Rhino horn is, in fact, com­posed of the same material as fin­ger­nails and toe­nails. It has no medic­i­nal prop­er­ties. Tak­ing rhino horn pow­der is no more ef­fec­tive than chew­ing your fin­ger­nails.

It is hoped that if this mes­sage is able to fil­ter through to end users it will have the power to re­duce the demand for rhino horn and hope­fully men can look at other means of en­hanc­ing their man­hood.

Un­less con­certed and col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts are made to sal­vage en­dan­gered an­i­mals from the cur­rent on­slaught, the beau­ti­ful an­i­mals may be­come ex­tinct.

This vil­lager be­lieves it’s high time we cre­ate aware­ness on the plight of the rhino and help stem il­le­gal trade in rhino and rhino prod­ucts world­wide.

The African con­ti­nent’s rhino pop­u­la­tion was es­ti­mated at 65 000 in 1960, but to­day much fewer an­i­mals are left. The black rhino (Diceros bi­cor­nis) was put on Ap­pen­dix 1 un­der the Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) in 1973 as a re­sult of this alarm­ing de­cline. It means it should be highly pro­tected.

Through poach­ing, which in­ten­si­fied in the 1980s, the rhino pop­u­la­tion was re­duced to less than 3 000 by 1992 on the African con­ti­nent. Fol­low­ing un­prece­dented poach­ing in the Zam­bezi Val­ley, Se­bungwe and Hwange-Matetsi sub-re­gions, the num­bers in Zim­babwe de­clined to about 250 by 1993.

The mag­ni­tude of this on­slaught was alarm­ing, prompt­ing the for­mu­la­tion of con­ser­va­tion strate­gies to arrest the de­cline.

These mea­sures led to the re­cov­ery of the pop­u­la­tion to 400 by 2 000 and to the cur­rent es­ti­mate of 1 000. This makes Zim­babwe the fourth largest af­ter South Africa, Namibia and Kenya in terms of ag­gre­gate rhino pop­u­la­tion.

How­ever, de­spite the gains made in rhino con­ser­va­tion, poach­ing re­mains the sin­gle largest threat to rhino sur­vival.

While the rate of our losses has slowed down sig­nif­i­cantly this year, our rhino pop­u­la­tion re­mains un­der se­vere threat.

Neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, no­tably South Africa, are fac­ing sim­i­lar threats to their pop­u­la­tions. Zim­babwe, like many other rhino pro­tec­torates, faces an on­slaught from so­phis­ti­cated, ruth­less and heav­ily armed in­ter­na­tional crim­i­nal gangs and syn­di­cates run­ning the il­le­gal rhino horn trade.

As you are aware, rhi­nos con­sti­tute one of the highly re­garded “Big Five” of African wildlife that acts as an axis of at­trac­tion and a tourism draw­card.

The other wild an­i­mals that are part of the Big Five are ele­phant, lion, leop­ard and the buffalo. To this end, while Zim­babwe is home to ap­prox­i­mately 1 000 rhi­nos, both black and white, these are cur­rently listed as crit­i­cally en­dan­gered on the IUCN red list of en­dan­gered mam­mals.

◆ Read the full ar­ti­cle on ww.her­ald.co.zw

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