A human tragedy above all else

CONSERVATIONSTS and the general public across the entire world were appalled at the news last week of the savage attack at the rhino orphanage sanctuary at Thula Thula, near Heatonville.

Appeals for the tightening up of security measures were responded to immediately, and rightly so.

This is a special place on the planet, a haven for young rhinos left orphaned by the killing of their parents as the battle for the preservation of this species – perilously nearing extinction – continues.

In no time, monies were deposited into bank accounts, to be converted into tangible barriers to poachers.

This could include affording more patrol staff, building new fences and a number of other security measures.

It is also right that we should speak for and defend these mighty beasts, for without the intervention of nature lovers and conservationists, they would fall one by one until the last giant has shed its blood.

But there was an even greater tragedy at Thula Thula last week.

A young woman, who left the comfort of her home in Europe to fight for a cause in which she fervently believed, was sexually assaulted during the attack.

Whether this aspect was glossed over or played down deliberately to ‘protect’ this most unfortunate victim’s identity, is not clear – but in many reports, the rhino plight seemed to have garnered more sympathy and headlines than the human being whose life will never again be the same and whose ultimate memory of this country and region will be a horrible one.

Her situation has tremendous international significance: an attack on a foreign national has diplomatic and well as personal consequences. The hurt is widespread.

Without doubt, she will receive the highest levels of counselling and support and – although it won’t undo the hurt – we await the full might of the law falling on the perpetrators.

One hopes the court houses will be packed with protesters when they come to trial for their brutal poaching…but more especially, for the damage to the spirit of our beloved, brave and broken guest.


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Dave Savides

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