By Kate Bergh
The story of rhino conservation had been one of the glorious ‘feel-good’ stories of the 20th century. Back in 1930, we were staring over the abyss and facing the extinction of this pre-historic creature with only 10 known white rhino left in the world. Yet a few key individuals spear-headed the metaphorical and literal rebirth of the rhino population. Population numbers soared and perhaps we could be forgiven if we basked in the rare glory of a conservation success story?
Yet whilst white rhino numbers rose seemingly inexorably, (or so we foolishly thought), to a high of 20,000 by 2010, black rhino were not so lucky and their numbers continued to fall with almost with the same speed with a 96% population collape since the 1960’s . Now there are only 480 surviving black rhino in the world today.
In the 21st century, both black and white rhino are facing with a new life-assassinating threat – poaching on a scale not seen since the 1960’s with over 367 rhino killed between January and May this year.
They now estimate that there is a 50% chance that the prehistoric rhino will be extinct by 2030, only 17 years from now.
With this in mind, I leapt at the unique opportunity to spend some time with the Rhino Monitoring Unit based at Mvuu Wilderness Lodge in Malawi. See my last blog post for more on this charming little lodge in the Liwonde National Park.
“Whatever you do, don’t run” is a title of an book of entertaining reminiscences by ex safari guide, Peter Allison. I thought of that motto as I prepared to go out with the rhino team to track black rhino in Liwonde Park. More....