Two more rhino killed. Do we care?

White rhino in the South African bush. Fifty four rhino have been killed by poachers already this year.

[notice]Tourism professional Craig Duffield reports on the alarming slaughter of rhinos in South Africa by poachers, and asks whether we as Christians should care about this onslaught that threatens the survival of this species.[/notice]

According to Kruger National Park spokesman, William Mabasa, people in a safari vehicle found the carcasses of a rhino cow and her calf without their horns on February 28.

“Rangers and police were called to the scene and confirmed that the (rhino) cow and calf were indeed killed by poachers. The investigation into the incident is continuing and we are looking for the poachers.”

“When the existence of an entire species is threatened, we as a collective humanity have betrayed the most basic component of that responsibility. And we run the danger of permanently snuffing out one of the unique lights of God’s creation. A staggering number of those lights have already been snuffed out, and many, many more are at risk if we don’t intervene and change the way we relate to our Creator’s world,” — Kyle Van Houtan, Christian conservation scientist.

David Mabunda, SA National Parks chief executive, sounded the alarm earlier this month by warning that poachers had already killed 52 rhino in South Africa in 2012. The Kruger National Park and Limpopo province are the two areas being hardest hit, with 26 and 13 rhinos killed there respectively.

The two latest killings brought the number of rhino deaths to 54 in 2012!

The war against our rhinos has gained international attention, even making the Christian press. Christian Post reporter Stoyan Zaimov wrote a very hard hitting article on February 24 challenging Christians to stand up and care more about God’s creation.

In the article Zaimov asks a pertinent question: “So why should Christians care about the fate of a species that is being hunted down toward extinction half the world away?”  The reality and sobering thought is, I am not sure Christians in Africa really care about this. Should we care?

One Christian environmentalist Zaimov interviewed said: “All animals are part of God’s creation, and that it is their (our) duty to defend them; not stand by as they are being destroyed.”

A professor Zaimov interviewed suggested that “mankind will stand before God one day and will have to answer for how His creation has been treated”.

Talk about ‘God’s creation’, not ‘animal rights’
Tom Rowley, Executive Director of A Rocha USA, a Christian environmental stewardship organization said: “We can start by talking about it in terms of God’s creation rather than animal rights. For Christians, we ought to care because God cares. He created it all and called it all very good.

“Christ created all through Him, by Him, for Him, and not just in terms of creation in the abstract, or the species scale, but even down to the individual animal. In Matthew 10, not a single sparrow falls without the Father knowing about it.”

“Christians are definitely called to care about rhino poaching, or any act of cruelty or disregard for the life and wellbeing of God’s creatures. The Bible communicates that God takes delight and pride in His animal creations, and He has clearly called us to steward them with care and compassion on His behalf,” Ben Devries, founder of, Not One Sparrow, insisted.

“When the existence of an entire species is threatened, we as a collective humanity have betrayed the most basic component of that responsibility. And we run the danger of permanently snuffing out one of the unique lights of God’s creation. A staggering number of those lights have already been snuffed out, and many, many more are at risk if we don’t intervene and change the way we relate to our Creator’s world,” Kyle Van Houtan, a Christian conservation scientist said.

Chilling statistics
South Africa’s rhino poaching fatality statistics are:
2008: 83;  2009: 122; 2010: 333;  2011: 448;  2012: 54. This is an alarming 1 040 rhino butchered in a little over 4 years.

Our country’s rhino population has already reached a crucial tipping point and the species is now in danger of extinction due to the drastic increase in poaching since 2008 according to conservationist Ian Player.

According to the World Wildlife Organisation Africa’s black rhino population dropped by 95% since 1970 to approximately 2 500 individuals before beginning to stabilise in certain countries in its range. Africa’s black rhino population has increased to 3 100 individuals today.

In 2011 the north western black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes), a subspecies, was declared extinct.

Approximately 11 670 white rhinos remain in the wild; almost all are southern white rhino living in South Africa!  What makes the poaching onslaught really concerning is the fact that over the past 20 years South Africa has been the only country where rhino numbers have grown substantially.

Only 30 individuals of the northern subspecies of white rhino remain and all are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Red flags
“The red warning flags are up and anything could happen,” warned Player.

While researching for this article I could not stop reflecting on Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it ” and I cannot help but wonder if we as Christians — the Church — are addressing this issue. Is this an issue we should be addressing or concerned about? I believe it is!

I believe we are at a crossroads, where we are able to choose to save or allow the destruction of the rhino for future generations. Will my future grandchildren or great grandchildren be dependent on historically archived, photographs and video, when they want to see what rhino once looked like?

Will the rhino take its place in the gallery of extinct species alongside the Cape Lion, quagga, bluebuck and blue antelope?

The answer to this question is dependent on what we choose to do. I believe the Bible is clear; creation expresses God’s wisdom and His power and we as people and especially as Christians are called to be stewards, to nurture, to protect and to preserve His creation.

Genesis 1:26:  Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

For ways to get involved and help save the rhino let your voice be heard on http://www.stoprhinopoaching.com/

7 Comments

  1. This article couldn’t have been more spot on. I agree whole heartedly and my heart breaks at the thought of such a majestic species becoming extinct. I have a question. How does this situation change? I see countless sites where awareness is raised and people voice their agreement to see a change but I don’t know what practical things have been set in motion. Can anyone help me with this? I hope I am not being ignorant. I am desperate to see this poaching stopped but I am clueless as to how we can practically do it. Thanks so much.

  2. @ Natalie, you raise some great questions. Just three days ago I was asking myself some very similar questions. I realise I will not be in the thick of things on the ground, where the poaching takes place. However, I have a voice and I plan to make it heard. Hopefully as more and more people become aware of the situation and the plight of the rhino things will start to change. The Stop Rhino poaching group are doing some great work. You can look at ways to partner or support them in their work to save these magnificent animals.

  3. More tragedy! I just read that Kariega Game Reserve had 3 rhino poached yesterday.
    According to Metro Newspaper reporter Derrick Spies colonel Macintosh Polela, the Hawks spokesperson, confirmed that rangers on patrol found the rhinos about 07h30 this morning.

    Polela said “One Rhino is dead and two are being treated by a vet and are in a critical condition ”

  4. Ps Pierre de Vos

    All this is valid, but what concerns me more is the general lawlessness we are experiencing in our country. Whatever the crime, whether it be rhino or abalone poaching or muggings, taxi violence or armed robberies, these all need to be dealt with much more severely. The carnage cannot go on and as Christians it is our duty to get involved.

  5. @ Pierre, I agree. Our country is facing a massive challenge with regard to lawlessness. We, as the Church need to get involved. It is time for the Church to move beyond the four walls of a building and serve our nation.

    An update: the number of rhino killed by the end of February 2012 was not 54, but in fact 80!

  6. This whole situation is a huge concern and I feel very strongly that we, as the Church, need to take a stand and make our voices heard against these callous and tragic events, which, as I see it, boil down to greed. Your article is challenging and informative, thank you for your concern. Prayer is such a powerful weapon, let’s unite and use it to ask God to end this dreadful scourge.

  7. @ Linda, thanks for the encouragement. Yes, prayer is a HUGELY powerful weapon that must not be ignored. Thanks for the reminder of this.