Happy World Rhino Day.
I don’t know what’s in worse shape – the world or the rhino. There was a time when I wanted to save the world. As a child I’d see a shooting star, or the chicken’s wishbone would snap my way, and my mother would say, “Make a wish!” Stupidly, I would wish for world peace instead of for a meteorite to destroy my school.
I kept wishing for world peace right into my thirties. I only stopped when it became apparent that my wishes were not only not working, but they seemed to be having the opposite effect. Every time I wished for peace on a shooting star (I couldn’t afford a chicken for much of my thirties) a fresh conflict would erupt somewhere in the world.
I have given up on the world and I am now bestowing my wishes upon the rhino. I only hope that every time I wish for an end to poaching, a rhino doesn’t get a bullet in the face.
Like Gurthro Steenkamp, rhinos are not easy on the eye. They are belligerent and not very bright. However, I admire their solitary nature and the fact that they come together only for mating. I can but dream of such a world.
The South African government is clearly incapable of protecting them. Newspapers are awash in pictures of dead rhinos when the nation is crying out for pictures of dead poachers. We have an army of 50 000 soldiers and yet a handful of barbaric profiteers are winning this war hands down. If Swapo had been poachers, we’d all be speaking Russian today.
By the end of the year, the kill rate will have reached almost three a day. If this were America losing their bison – no wait, the European settlers already did to the bison what the Mozambicans are doing to our rhino. The point is, if a foreign country were decimating, say, the giant Californian beaver, there would be, as Barack Obama is fond of saying, consequences.
I’m all for airstrikes on Ho Chi Minh City, but we need our air force on standby in case we are attacked by Swaziland’s King Mswati. Having just taken yet another teenage bride, he must be so stuffed with Viagra by now that he probably thinks he’s virile enough to penetrate our borders over and over again until we beg for mercy.
If we can’t bomb Vietnam, how about a trade boycott? What would we lose? What do we get from them apart from pole dancers and rice?
Meanwhile, new research has discovered an entire underclass of aspirant horn fiends in this glittering jewel of a country. Around four million already use it. Millions more will buy it once they have the means to do so.
While some use it to cure diseases like cancer – with a proven success rate of 0.00 percent – it is predominately used as a status symbol and a general panacea. In other words, if a guest at your cocktail party has a headache, you’re not going to give her a Panado. Hell, no. You’re going to put her on her knees, tilt her head back and pour half a gram of crushed horn onto her tongue while the other guests cheer loudly and raise their glasses of bear bile and panda pituitary glands.
If you went to a similar party in Camps Bay, Sandton or Umhlanga, you would be less than impressed if the host put out bowls containing the equivalent of compressed toenail clippings. You would want to know where the cocaine was. And rightly so.
The Vietnamese have access to the best opium and heroin in the world, and yet they offer their friends something with no narcotic or curative properties whatsoever. That’s not my idea of a fun party.
The World Wide Fund for Nature-SA hopes to change the Vietnamese views on rhino horn’s desirability as a status symbol by enhancing the desirability of other status symbols, such as cars and designer clothing.
In other words, we need to treat them like children. “Look what I have for you, Phong Dong! I will give you this sparkly Michael Jackson jacket with pretty pockets and shiny buttons if you give me that yucky packet of boring old powder.”
“Fuck you! No jacket! Want horn! Don’t want … ooh, is that latest Toyota Fortuna? Here, take horn. You give me keys.”
Converting the Vietnamese aristocracy from horn-snorting, dog-eating savages into decent capitalists won’t be easy, especially since it’s a communist country. Luckily, today’s commies are easily influenced by the finer things in life. Look how quickly Blade Nzimande was co-opted, although he is more of a champagne socialist than he is a genuine communist. He’s also more into white wine than white rhino.
I don’t think we can rely on media campaigns achieving much. For a start, conservationists discovered that showing the Vietnamese graphic images of bleeding or dead rhinos had little effect. Apart, perhaps, from making them feel hungry.
I was hoping some of the more serious-minded TV channels would take up the fight. This week the Discovery Channel was advertising a programme called Forbidden. “Join in as we meet the pony girl from the USA – a woman who has spent half her life living as a pony.”
I laughed and laughed. Then I curled up in the foetal position and cried myself to sleep.