(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!
2017 was a year of extraordinary challenges, to put it mildly. Looking back and surveying the damage leaves you queasy and certainly questioning whether this is a hole without a bottom. From the senseless violence in Las Vegas to the hatred in Charlottesville to the state-mandated discrimination at the airports to the collapse of American leadership in the fight to save our planet to the abandonment of Puerto Rican citizens in their time of need to the attack on transgender members of the military to the pathetic sparring of two nuclear-armed frontal-lobe-deficient adolescents should be enough to make anyone start drinking heavily to numb the pain. Then you add Mother Nature’s fury in the form of wildfires, hurricanes, and earthquakes and one really wonders if this is actually the beginning of the end.
I have certainly found 2017 to be brutal, disheartening, and relentless in its continuous blows against all that I value as a woman, a mom, an American, and a member of humanity.
BUT it has also been a year of amazing accomplishments, resistance, and hope. The lows of 2017 were really, really low but wow, were the highs high!
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.
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