Across the belt of southern Africa, from Kenya to Namibia, barely a week passes when there aren't reports of poachers claiming another white or black rhinoceros. If one talks with government wildlife officials or advocates on the ground, they describe the problem as a growing crisis.
Early in February 2012, a suspected rhino poacher from Zambia was shot and killed at Tshakabika game reserve by Zimbabwe national park game guards under the country’s shoot to kill policy. Neighboring South Africa says that by June it will deploy 600 soldiers along its border with Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Losotho to stop ivory and rhino horn smugglers. World Wildlife Fund says that in 2009, a record 448 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa alone and in 2010 the number was at least 333, meaning the animals were being slain at the rate of about one a day.
Black rhino are classified as critically endangered on the Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species with a high probability of extinction while white are considered “near threatened.” To be sure, Africa is struggling with more than its share of grave humanitarian challenges. Johnny Rodrigues today finds himself on the front lines of an ecological one. At first, the outfit he founded—the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force—was a reactionary, ad hoc entity. It responded to incidents of poaching and slaughter of adult elephants, rhinos and other species by finding orphaned offspring safe homes.
At right, 'Rhino' by...
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Post Date:May 7th, 2012
'Johnny Rodrigues stands on the front lines of the wildlife poaching war in Africa. In an interview with Wildlife Art Journal, Rodriques talks about his battles with poachers and trying to protect rhinos, elephants and other species amid chaos and corruptions. As founder of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, Rodrigues also is getting help from family members who use the proceeds of artwork sales to keep the organization in business. Warning: What Rodriques says is not for the feint of heart.