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  • Writer's pictureAngie Raab


Updated: Jun 24, 2021

"The scary thing is, that in my lifetime 95% of the world's rhinos have been killed." -mark carwadine

On my last day in Kenya, I received the one phone call I dreaded, the one you hope you will never get when working in rhino conservation and meeting so many amazing people and animals. "Bingo and three others were poached. Bingo survived but is blind and we don't know if he will make it." He died a few days later. Sibuya Game Reserve in South Africa was my first up close experience with anti poaching units and the challenges they face. Back in the day, they had opened the door for us when no one else would. This stunning place was home to an equally stunning crash of rhinos with Bingo in the lead. He was friendly and curious, always bullied by his females (poor thing). One some days we would find him with scratches on his belly, on others with small wounds on his face and a dopey expression, chewing away on grass; the ladies seemed to not find his horn too impressive at times. I remember our laughs whenever we sat on the back of the land cruiser, savannah at hand, to watch him and his little family, especially the babies, while the sun was setting and the first stars rising. At night, he followed us around to make sure we meant no harm, trying stealth mode more than once, which was quite amusing. Rhino stealth mode sounds like a tank crashing through a forest, just slowly, very slowly. His little offspring and her sister, who were both orphaned during the incident, were raised in Shamwari Game Reserve's sanctuary by caretakers, before returning back to their home. I was lucky to be able to visit them a couple of years later to see them thriving and happy as youngsters should be. There was a huge lump in my throat, I can tell you that. They were survivors. The unit now has Malinois tracking dogs - guardians to the remaining rhino family. My heart is still bleeding for beautiful Bingo and his family, brutally murdered during a starlit night. For what? A piece of Keratin, believed to cure cancer, used to get rid of hangovers or glorified as a status symbol within the rich and famous societies in Asia. (photos: bog photography, clare james photography, sibuya game reserve)

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