Biologist, Conservationist, & Portlander. My passion lives in Africa.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Organization Highlight: Rhino Reality and the ENV

5:49 PM Posted by Tara Easter No comments
I always try to keep up with the latest news in illegal wildlife trade, and these days rhinos are frequently the stars of the show. But I have to admit, it gets exhausting. Most of the time the stories are tragic, all with the same theme. I suppose the "sexiest" stories are the ones with death and "the war on poaching". But while I  greatly admire and thank the rangers who put their lives at risk to save these charismatic animals, military style, I wish I heard a little more about what's being done to end the trade from the consumer end. 

For one of our Roots and Shoots meetings, Galeo Saintz from Rhino Reality was kind enough to Skype in with us from South Africa at 2:30 a.m. to talk to us about their efforts to launch educational campaigns in Vietnam and China where rhino horns are most often bought for traditional medicine. So after a year of continuing to hear the increase in numbers of rhino deaths, and even more dramatic measures taken to defend them on the ground, I decided to check back in with Galeo to see how their efforts in Southeast Asia were progressing (knowing, of course this is not a quick and easy task).

I absolutely love small, locally based organizations that are receptive to inquiring emails. He responded only two days later with updates. While they work to show documentaries on rhino poaching to Asian tourists in Southern Africa, they have also teamed up with an organization in Vietnam to get the message there. Education for Nature - Vietnam works on the ground in Vietnam to raise awareness about wildlife crime. Their top commitments right now are to end the killing of tigers, rhinos, and sun bears. Under their volunteer opportunities, they list reporting wildlife crime, and checking in on previous offenders. Now that's some hands on volunteering that makes a difference.

So thank you, Rhino Reality and Education for Nature - Vietnam, for all that you do. Your bravery should be recognized, too.