(Photo of Hope by Adrian Steirn)
Sadly, if things don't change soon, the answer will be yes. Rhino populations are being decimated by poachers looking to make big profits on the sale of rhino horn. The small but mighty organization Saving the Survivors (STS) is doing everything in its power to save those rhinos that have somehow survived a poacher's attack. We spoke with Dr. Zoe Glyphis, one of the Saving the Survivors veterinarians, about her work with STS and what it will take to ensure the existence of rhinos for generations to come.
Beastly Threads: You and your STS colleagues save rhinos and other endangered animals who have become victims of unspeakable violence. It must be devastating to see the animals in such pain. How do you keep your spirits up and stay strong?
Dr. Zoe Glyphis: We take every case one step, and one day at a time. Some are more difficult than others, but they are never easy, and it also never gets easier to see the brutality that man inflicts on animals. We have a very good supportive team, and we have a great support network of family, friends, and other veterinarians that we rely on. Every time we succeed we draw a lot of strength from that case and we also love to hear from our colleagues in the conservation circles when they have success stories. That keeps us going.
BT: I read on your site that poaching is increasing. What is causing that increase?
ZG: The increase is due to many, many factors, but one of the major influences is that the wealthy people in SouthEast Asia are “banking on extinction.” Ivory and rhino horn is now a status symbol and its perceived worth increases as these animals' numbers decrease.
BT: Are the various efforts to decrease poaching helping? Efforts to seize and destroy elephant ivory? Media campaigns to cut demand? Educational programs to get communities to help protect animals in their region?
ZG: To a certain extent there is progress in educating the younger generation about the importance of conservation of endangered species. However, unless we have governmental support in curbing wildlife poaching and trafficking, we will never win. Here is a prime example of a lack of compliance by other countries who claim to want to save the rhino.
There is also very little or no community involvement in conservation in southern Africa. This model has proven successful in other countries so is very important to the effort.
BT: If you had the ear of global leaders, what three steps would you ask them to take to save rhinos?
ZG: 1. Make ALL wildlife crime (poaching, trafficking, etc.) illegal in your respective country.
2. Put systems in place for people to report wildlife crimes and follow up on reports.
3. Educate the people of the world about the value of wildlife in its natural habitat.
BT: Which survivor story do you hold closest to your heart?
ZG: The story of Vrystaat – a 26-month old male White rhino poached for a small stub of horn in February this year.
He lost one of his friends in the attack but he continues to fight and he has healed remarkably. He was subject to more stress when his crash (group of rhinos) was attacked again last month, but he continues to fight on. This was one of the first poaching cases where I saw grown men cry...
We at Beastly Threads are so thankful for the incredible work Dr. Zoe Glyphis and her Saving the Survivors team do every day. If you want to support the work of STS, buy a Beastly Rhino scarf (now 25% off) and we will send them $10 and/or donate directly to Saving the Survivors. The rhinos need our help!
Finding inspiration while running on the hamster wheel of life – going from one task to the next, always in a rush, never with enough time to stop and see all of the amazing things happening around the world - is tough.
Or is it?
Maybe we are just looking in the wrong places. Maybe we don’t need TEDTalks, Instagram, and Anderson Cooper to find the energy and hope we are seeking. Because really, the greatest place to find inspiration is in the brilliance and creativity and generosity of our friends. When I take the time to look, I find that I am utterly surrounded by awesomeness.
One of the amazing organizations that Beastly Threads supports, Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF), is doing everything in its power to restore coral reefs in the Florida Keys and Caribbean. I got the chance to ask Ashley Hill of CRF some questions about their work, the sunscreen vs. coral controversy, and what global leaders need to do before the planet's reefs are gone forever.
Beastly Threads (BT): The global decline of coral reefs is really scary. What makes you hopeful that the reefs can be saved?
Ashley Hill (AH): The work being done at Coral Restoration Foundation gives me hope. Our organization is working diligently to understand causes of not only local, but global coral reef decline. Over the next few years, CRF is honing our efforts to fully restore several reefs throughout the Florida Keys. The reefs of the keys were once iconic dive sites with impressive stands of elkhorn and staghorn coral. Due to warming waters, increased pollution, and physical damage, the reefs have experienced dramatic declines and are now ideal candidates for our restoration efforts. Working with NOAA and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, CRF will begin to fully restore several reefs. This type of effort informs international projects. Criteria for reef restoration can transcend a singular area to be useful across the globe.
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