The Dark Side Of A Full Moon In Africa
Where I live, the full moon is spectacular. Its brilliance lights up the countryside. It gives the landscape a bright, luminous glow.
It was 4:00 a.m. when I woke to the sounds of rustling in the front field from the nearby brush. I looked out my window, what a sight. The moonbeams fell upon a mother and her two-year-old wandering about in the field. They were peaceful, without a care in the world. It was a beautiful sight and one that will stay with me forever!
I made myself a cup of tea and stepped onto the porch to enjoy the view before the chamomile took over. As my eyes took in a wide-angle view of the field, I couldn’t locate the duo anywhere! I was feeling uneasy, so I called the rangers and went back to the porch to wait. Things always get crazy around here when there’s a full moon, and I’d rather be safe than sorry.
While waiting for the Rangers, curiosity got the best of me. I put my cup down, slipped on my sandals, and tip-toed out into the field to get a better look around. I heard the voices of several men and the motor of an ATV or truck which stopped me dead in my tracks, frozen in fear. There was a faint smell of exhaust in the air, so I wasn’t sure if the men were coming or going. I could hear them speaking in the distance in a language foreign to me and panic set in! What were they doing all the way out here in the savannah? Had they done something with this mother and her little one?
With all the courage I could muster, I walked to the far end of the field where I heard a strange sound. It was a squeaking noise. In the distance, I saw a large shadow in the dried grass along the edge of the tree line.
Finally, the Rangers were pulling up, armed and ready for business. By this time, the sun was breaking over the horizon, and the sunrise overtook the light of the moon. I could no longer hear the voices of the men or the truck from earlier. But the squeaking noise grew louder. The Rangers advised me to stay on the porch. Against their advice, I tagged along with them. I felt safer with them than alone on the porch.
As we got closer to the large shadow, I could feel my heartbeat in my throat. I could smell iron in the air and knew it was blood. It created an image of horror in my mind that caused my heart to ache. I imagined the attentive, defensive mother covered in blood. While attempting to defend her baby, she was fighting for her life. I can’t imagine how she must have suffered, in that short amount of time.
“The time it took to make a cup of tea…”
The squeaking noises were relentless! We crept toward the sound. Once there, our eyes fell upon a brutal sight. The baby, crying and trying to wake its mother, trying to wake its mother who lied dead, her beloved horn stripped by poachers. Despite the evidence of the bloodbath, I was hoping to see an image like this instead…
Things are changing though: World Rhino Day 2018 September 22
In the African bush, there is minimal pollution. The particulates in the air to refract the bright light of the moon. A full moon leaves many of the animals as sitting ducks in the illuminated landscape of the night. The most affected are the rhinos. The poachers hunt and kill them only for their keratin composed horns. In fact, the only predator of the rhinoceros is human. Land developers and poachers stealing their lives, and land.
All five species of the rhinos are in grave danger due to illegal poaching. For the fifth year in a row, poachers have killed three rhinos per day. Many rhino calves die trying to fend for themselves in the wild. Between 2007 and 2017, there has been a 9,000 percent increase in the number of rhinos killed.
The Rhinocerotidae is a family of mammals who first appeared about 50 million years ago. They have a long history that may end during our lifetime. There are three species of Indian Rhino (Greater One-Horned Indian, Sumatran, and Javan), and two species of African Rhino (Black and White)
These are the five remaining species we must fight to keep alive!
1. Greater One-Horned Indian Rhino
You can recognize the Indian Rhino by its single horn and armor-like skin. Thanks to strict protection by government authorities in India and Nepal, the Greater One-Horned, or Indian Rhino has rebounded from fewer than 200 to over 3,550 today.
2. White Rhino
White Rhinos are the primary target of poaching gangs in Africa. The population of the Southern White Rhino is making a comeback thanks to conservation efforts and successful breeding.
Both white and black rhinos are gray.
They LOVE to wallow in the mud, so both species appear brown in photos.
The death of the last male Northern White Rhino has recently garnered public attention.
By the time expert trackers determined that they were extinct in the wild, only a handful of zoo animals remained, and none could breed. Today, the two remaining Northern white rhinos are living out their days in a reserve in Kenya.
3. Black Rhino
Africa’s Black Rhinos are slowly coming back from horrendous losses. By 1993, fewer than 2,300 rhinos remained from populations of over 65,000 in the 1970s. Today, Black Rhinos numbers hover around 5,000 animals.
Both white and black rhinos are gray. To tell them apart one only needs to look at their upper lip. Black Rhinos have a pointy, hook-like lip for foraging branches where the white rhino has a flat, square lip for grazing on grasses.
4. Sumatran Rhino
In 2015, Malaysia declared Sumatran Rhinos extinct in the wild. In Asia, fewer than 80 Sumatran Rhinos remain. Because the population has declined over 70 percent in the past 20 years, it may be the most endangered large mammal on Earth. Three small, isolated populations exist on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, plus a tiny handful of animals in Indonesian Borneo. Anti-poaching units heavily guard the remaining population.
5. Javan Rhinos
Less than 67 Javan Rhinos are alive in the world. In 2010, poachers killed and hacked the horn off Vietnam’s last Javan Rhino.
Three of the five surviving species (Black, Sumatran, and Javan) are in critical, severe crisis, and on the verge of extinction.
Main Source of the article: RHINO Husbandry Manual
“Where There’s a Will There’s a Way!”
Celebrate World Rhino Day: September 22, 2018
World Rhino Day is about celebrating the extraordinary effort, dedication, and service put forth around the world to “Keep The Five Alive.” Conservations such as “The Wilds” in Cumberland, Ohio, National Parks in Africa and Asia, and even Zoos, provide heavily guarded and safe living environments to preserve the existence of rescued Rhinos. They provide excellent veterinary care, a watchful eye and even take in abandoned calves and raise them to be healthy adults. They offer safari adventures and vacations for the public to view these rhinos in a protected natural habitat.
Fall in Love With The Beasts Who Stole My Heart!
“The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens” in Sanford, Fl, “The Maryland Zoo” in Baltimore, MD, and “The Wilds” in Cumberland, OH offer amazing opportunities through their “behind the scenes” experiences. I’ve been fortunate to have hands-on interaction with one-horned Indian Rhinos in Florida, and two 4,500-pound White Rhinos in Maryland. These “behind the scenes experiences” allow the public to interact with knowledgeable zookeepers and these magnificent creatures! In Baltimore, they even know my name! Despite what the Zookeepers say, I’m convinced that Stubby, Jaharo, and PJ remember me too. Ok, so they probably don’t, but I will never forget them.
*Please note, policies and procedures can change due to the unpredictability of circumstances and changes of regulations. Your “behind the scene experience” may not be exactly like mine, but I promise it will be worth it!
How Can I Celebrate and Participate in World Rhino Day 2018?
Become a Zoo member!
Sign up for the 4th annual Iron Pony, 80-mile motorcycle benefit in August 2019!
Purchase “World Rhino Day 2018” t-shirts.
Book a safari, vacation or golf trip at The Wilds
Book a behind the scenes rhino encounter!
Plan a summer vacation at Zoombezi Bay! Waterslides for days and “Otter Banks”!
Donate and Support
Special Thanks to:
Jen Fields at the Columbus Zoo for a lightning fast response and providing some amazing photos.
Louise Bengtsson at the Maryland Zoo for going above and beyond to support my efforts for this article. Thank you for accommodating our special needs when scheduling us behind the scenes.