By Davin Turkewitz
For most Charleston residents, rhino poaching isn't exactly a local issue. But for locals Graham MacDonald and Clint Weimann, the problem hits close to home — they're native South Africans who grew up seeing the animals in the wild. The duo came up with Project Rhino after a recent trip back home, where they learned about the issue firsthand.
“We were sitting around a fire after returning from South Africa, and we were devastated by the rhinos’ condition," says Project Rhino's Sarah MacDonald. "We decided we didn’t want to sit around, and that it was time to make an impact.”
Rhino horns are poached for the medical properties that some falsely believe can protect against cancer and the common cold. They sell for about $45,000 per pound, with the average horn weighing 15.5 pounds. That makes them worth more than gold on the black market.
Since 2008, more than 1,600 rhinos have been killed by poachers, and the world rhino population has decreased by more than 90% since 1983. “It’s important to protect all wildlife, and the local government has no means to protect the rhinos. The poachers are using high-tech weaponry and helicopters, and the game rangers need support so they can stop it from happening,” said founder Graham MacDonald. To help the rangers combat the poachers, Project Rhino supplies them with fuel, weapons, and strategic support.
The event on May 4 will support anti-poaching efforts, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the South African Project Rhino KZN. There will be all-you-can-eat South African food, live music, drinks, information on the rhino poaching crisis, and jump castles and corn hole for the kids. There will also be a South African potjie cooking competition, and guests can purchase separate tickets to be judges.
Tickets to the event are $15 and are available, along with more rhino info, at Project Rhino's website. You can also learn more on Project Rhino's Facebook page.