Bothongo Nature Reserve
If you ask one of our field guides how many rhinos we have on the Bothongo Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, they will explain that they can’t tell you. That’s because rhinos everywhere are under siege by poachers, and for their safety, we must keep their exact number secret. Our rhinos have to be under constant armed guard by anti-poaching specialists because of the global rhino-poaching epidemic. The slaughter reached a peak in 2015, with 1,349 rhinos poached across Africa. Thankfully, the rate of poaching is decreasing, but we are still losing an average of two rhinos every single day.
In August 2019, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs announced that at the end of 2021, 451 rhinos had been poached. It’s the first time in six years that the country has recorded an increase in rhino poaching incidents.
One of the reasons poaching has increased so drastically over the last decade is the ill-informed belief that rhino horn can cure a series of maladies, from cancer to impotence. This is false, and rhinos are being needlessly slaughtered because of human ignorance and greed.
Rhino horns are made of keratin – which is similar in structure to horses’ hooves, turtle beaks, and cockatoo bills, they are also the same substance that makes up our own hair and nails. The belief that they have some sort of magical healing property is baseless and has scientifically been proven to be false. Consuming rhino horn is about as helpful as biting one’s own nails.
The rhinos in our reserve are all Southern White Rhinos, a species which was on the brink of extinction in the 1950s with less than 100 individuals left in South Africa. Operation Rhino was launched in the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa.
Using pioneering techniques, white rhinos were relocated to reserves around the rest of South Africa. It was so successful that by 2010, South Africa was home to 90% of the rhinos in Africa.
The Bothongo Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve is passionate about the welfare and conservation of our rhinos – this is where our bond comes into play with Dr. Johan Marais and Saving the Survivors. A non-profit organisation that specialises in the saving of poached and injured wildlife – with Rhino’s being their priority. You too can be a change agent and supporter of the rhinos by giving to accredited rhino charities, raising awareness about our rhinos, and educating people about rhino poaching and the importance of conservation.