Cape Town - South Africans and international animal lovers alike has refused to let despair and cruelty have the last word, following a harrowing incident at a KwaZulu-Natal rhino orphanage.
A heavily armed gang hit the Findimvelo Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday night, 21 February, tying up staff and killing the two rhino as they watched in horror.
But despite the horror, heartfelt messages of hope and well-wishes have been flooding in for the establishment. Along with this, almost R400 000 has been raised for the rhino orphanage in less than 24 hours.
Staff members were keeping watch in the baby rhinos' enclosures during the night when the savage attack happened. Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage later posted a message on their official Facebook page saying that they were "still trying to come to grips with the devastating attack on our team as well as the tragic loss of two of our beloved rhino orphans, Impi and Gugu."
Ironically, the words 'Thula thula' means 'hush hush', or 'don't cry' in isiXhosa and isiZulu.
The attack prompted Thula Thula volunteer Megan Richards to set up a fundraising initiative on Wednesday on crowdfunding platform Generosity‚ with an initial goal of raising money for additional security at the orphanage for four months.
Along with the initiative, Richards wrote the following message -
“The orphanage was attacked by armed poachers‚ the staff were assaulted and two rhinos were poached (one of the rhinos did not die immediately and had to be euthanized the following morning).
“This can’t keep on happening. We need to act now. We need to support this orphanage and their amazing work at their time of need. If we raise $55 000 (around R718 520) we can secure the work for one year and keep the remaining rhino calves safe from poachers’ attacks.
“As someone who has worked at Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage and knows how gentle‚ amazing and trusting the rhinos are this news has come as a living nightmare. Please help to keep the reserve protected and the surviving rhinos safe.”
By Thursday morning‚ 23 hours later‚ 381 people had raised $32 465, or more than R420 800.
Thula Thula said on Thursday morning that they "have been overwhelmed by amazing messages of support from people around the globe since the tragic attack on the orphanage".
Want to help Thula Thula? Here's how
You can join Megan Richards' crowdfunding initiative on Generosity here (the fundraiser has been confirmed and accredited by Thula Thula).
You can also make a secure donation directly to the Fundimvelo Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage, managed by The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization (a registered NPO), using one of the following options.
Make a secure donation through PayPal following this link and then clicking on the button, Rhino Orphanage Donation.
Support HELPING RHINO'S IN THE UK. This charity has supported Thula Thula for many years and this fund is dedicated to supporting the orphanage.
See more ways to help out on Thula Thula's Facebook page.
Desperate times for rhino
This latest poaching incident indicates that now, more than ever before, the country and its wildlife need the South African government to step up - to adopt a zero tolerance policy for the crime and to root out corruption within our environmental departments.
SEE: Does long-overdue rhino poaching stats release point to bigger issues?
But, alas, in another knock to SA's critically endangered wildlife, SA's Department of Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, speaking in a Parliamentary portfolio committee on Tuesday, told office that time has come to sell rhino horn.
SEE: #ShockWildlifeTruths: DEA wants to 'clear its house' by selling rhino horn
She said that there had been a moratorium on rhino horn sales since 2009 because the department needed to ‘clear its house.’
What to read next on Traveller24:
- #ShockWildlifeTruths: DEA wants to 'clear its house' by selling rhino horn
- #ShockWildlifeTruths: 'Vague' rhino horn trade draft regulations questioned
- Does long-overdue rhino poaching stats release point to bigger issues?