This week for Helping Hand we're learning about the second annual Winos for Rhinos event from local nonprofit Wild Aloha Foundation. Coming just days after World Rhino Day, this is only the second-ever rhino fundraiser of it's kind in Hawaii; Winos for Rhinos is Thursday September 26th at 5:30pm at The Pig & The Lady in Honolulu. HPR All Things Considered Host Dave Lawrence and Wild Aloha Foundation President and Co-Founder Maile Miller discuss their effort to bring awareness and funds to a crisis like few others: the plight of one of the world’s most vulnerable residents, the rhinoceros, literally in the fight for its very existence against a killing onslaught driven entirely by consumers in our Asia Pacific neighborhood.
Unfortunately, this dire situation for rhinos is entirely connected to the Asia Pacific, where consumers in the region bear the responsibility for most of the current demand for rhino horn. It comes down to just a handful of countries in Asia, with China and Vietnam driving a huge rise in demand for rhino horn since 2007. Prior to that, fewer than 20 rhinos were, on average, poached per year, and that kind of killing, while barbaric and unacceptable, was not a threat to their slow reproductive cycle, meaning the population could absorb the killing without risking extinction. Starting in 2007, around the time the Chinese and Vietnamese middle classes began to rapidly expand, that number rapidly increased, and in just a few years, it became a figure far exceeding 1,000 rhinos killed every year for their horns, with large numbers of baby rhinos left orphaned annually, requiring extraordinary care.
The horns are made of keratin, like your hair and fingernails, but that fact hasn’t stopped these consumers who buy rhino horn, which, in the process, exploits impoverished people with limited options for income, who are paid to kill off the world’s last rhinos. While the poachers are hated and blamed, it's criminal syndicates, often from the Asia Pacific, that hire them, and make enormous profits as these consumers buy into myths that rhino horn has some medicinal or other properties. This is a claim scientists the world over dispute.
This year Wild Aloha Foundation's Winos for Rhinos fundraiser will support anti-poaching efforts in South Africa, ground zero for the killing, and home to the largest rhino population on the planet. Rhinos in the wild generally require some of the heaviest security of any living creatures to survive this poaching explosion, often best served by having armed security personnel by their side around the clock, especially at night.
The benefactors are the Limpopo Rhino Security Group and the Council of Contributors, with the aim of providing anti-poaching resources to private landowners. What many people often don't realize is that a third of the estimated 20,000 rhinos still alive in South Africa are believed to live on privately owned land, where they are extremely vulnerable, being much more easily targeted than rhinos living in national parks and other government owned reserves and facilities. Rhinos not on government land tend to have far less security measures in place, and this fundraiser will direct funds toward the protection of these animals, and bolster the resources of these private owners.
Helping Hand is on All Things Considered. It airs Fridays and then all the Helping Hand segments are archived here. Helping Hand puts the spotlight on an organization, topic or event that offers assistance to people with disabilities and people and animals that are among the most vulnerable.