Unfortunately, Kariega Game Reserve has not escaped this scourge of poaching in Africa. According to Kariega, " Rhino horn is a status symbol in Asia where the wealthy, upper class offer it as a luxury item to friends and business associates. According to Kariega experts, "It is clinically proven that rhino horn has no medical value. The horn is made of keratin, the same as human fingernails and hair. Despite this, there are still those who believe it to be a cure for a number of ailments." The poachers, who dart the rhino and then brutally hack off it’s horns with a machete, actually get paid the smallest amount for their work. The middle-man and dealers in Vietnam and China profit the most. Kareiga's website also explains that "In South Africa the government and wildlife services have been slow and somewhat ineffective in dealing with rhino poaching. They have recently allocated more resources and budget to try to address the problem, along with non-government and civil society organisations. Additionally, private game reserves have also been forced to employ full time anti-poaching units resourced with guns and other specialised tracking equipment. Many reserves, like Kariega Game Reserve, also pay for rhinos to be dehorned annually (their horns grow just like our fingernails so this needs to be done regularly). This is very expensive for the reserves and some of the costs are passed on to Kariega guests."
At Kariega, on the 2 March 2012 one cow and two bull rhino's were poached at Kariega for their horns . Tragically, one bull was fatally wounded and died during the course of the night, whilst the remaining two were severely injured, but showed an incredible will to survive. For 24 days wildlife veterinary expert, Doctor William Fowlds, worked tirelessly with the Kariega team to give these survivors the best possible care and chance for recovery. Their bravery was unbelievable and inspired our rangers to nickname them Thandi and Themba, two isiXhosa names meaning courage (or to be loved) and hope. Sadly Themba (Hope) suffered a leg injury on the night he was poached and as a result of infection passed away on the morning of the 26 of March 2012.
Thandi continues to amaze us with her incredible fighting strength and miraculous recovery. She became the first rhino to ever survive a poaching attack. Her story spread around the world and has inspired many people to get involved in rhino conservation.
Thandi endured numerous operations since her attack, including pioneering skin graft surgery under the care of Dr William Fowlds. In December 2013 blood tests after her last facial procedure revealed that she was pregnant. After waiting for many months, we were overjoyed that she gave birth to a female calf on 13 January 2015. Kariega calls the calf Thembi, meaning hope in isiXhosa.
“The name Thembi seemed to fit best given that this little calf has brought fresh hope and energy to those who struggle to secure the future of our rhino. She is a new generation of life, one I hope will never experience a poaching incident like her mother and namesake Themba,” commented Dr William Fowlds when she was named.
Thandi surprised us again in January 2017 when she gave birth to another calf. The male rhino calf was born on 24 January 2017 and named Colin in memory of the visionary and founder of Kariega, Colin Rushmere. He passed just days before the rhino was born. Here is her story:
Elephants are also being slaughtered in record numbers with one being killed in Africa every 15 minutes for their ivory tusks. Please watch the Netflix movie called the "Ivory Game". The movie really hits home bye saying " losing elephants from Africa is a slow erosion of humanity. We have a global responsibility to save these animals". Many of the elephants are slaughtered by poachers right inside the vast Kruger National Park. National Geographic reports that "Conservationists hope that the shutdown of China's legal ivory market by the end of 2017 will make it easier to crackdown on the illegal trade, both which coexist in China". We all have a responsibility to stop poaching of all precious animals in Africa. Many efforts are underway to target poachers and protect our elephants and rhinos and see them once again flourish in beautiful South Africa.
After Thandi and Themba were poached, Kariega was flooded with requests to contribute to the medical care of these two survivors. In response to this overwhelming support the Kariega Foundation created a special fund dedicated to the rehabilitation and care of rhinos. The fund is now geared more towards providing the best possible anti-poaching and protection methods possible. To support this worldwide effort, Emerald Tours pledges to donate to the Kariega Foundation 5 percent of its profits from the 2018 South Africa golf and safari tours. We also hope that other individuals and corporations will also step up and pledge their support to the Kariega Foundation to protect the rhino and elephants. As reported by the African Wildlife Foundation, "poaching is exterminating elephants from Africa's great landscapes as populations have decreased by 30 percent in the last 7 years. We are running out of time and there is a role for all of us to play."
Come with Emerald Tours to play golf and visit Kariega to experience these beautiful animals up close and personal. You will then know why we are so passionate about saving elephants and rhinos to see their numbers once again thrive throughout Africa. Please watch this video from Kariega family owner Mark Rushmere who goes on to say " getting us back in the wild (on safari) restores our soul and reminds us what life is really about."