Travel: Rhino Conservation in Africa, part 1

Trip Reports
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July 31, 2014

By Manny Cassasco

I have finally arrived in Zimbabwe, Africa. I’m excited and unsure at what awaits me. The things I usually get myself into I have somewhat of a comfort zone. Coming to this country to help out a species of animal that I have no experience with is a bit uneasy. I have a strong passion for conservation, especially involving animals. What is expected of me? How will it all turn out? All legitimate concerns that will only be answered in the bush. Rhinos both black and white are being poached at an incredible rate. We are losing these wonderful animals due to their horns “medicinal” properties. Of course it’s all nonsense and not true. Rhino horns are made of Keratin. The same material found in hair and fingernails. The horn is actually made of a compressed amount of hair that does not attach to the skull. On the black market, rhino horn is worth is more than gold and its value is increasing. The poaching of these animals is a big problem. Here in Africa, I am joining an incredible group of wildlife vets. Our efforts are to dehorn rhinos, tag them, get DNA samples and have the horns micro chipped. The rhinos being dehorned are left alone by poachers and can lead a normal life.

Getting to know some of the locals

Getting to know some of the locals

This guy is tall

This guy is tall

Not a bad place to hang out

Not a bad place to hang out

A drawing of one of my favorite birds that I've seen so far

A drawing of one of my favorite birds that I’ve seen so far

Can't wait to see more of these guys

Can’t wait to see more of these guys

The continent of Africa is very proud of their heritage and the concern for their wildlife is rising. Elephants, lions, pangolin’s and rhinos and other animals are all sharing the same fate. We are only a tiny solution in the right direction. Education will probably be key in the long run. Efforts are now in place by the African government to help stop the poaching and educate people about the importance of African wildlife. I will be in remote areas accompanied by rangers. We will be using a chopper and trackers to find the rhinos and do our part. From what I understand some of them have never been dehorned and others it will be a re do. I am excited and pumped to be part of this team. I will report from the bush and post for you all!

By Manny Carrasco

As well as being an artist, Manny loves all things outdoors and is an avid hiker, rock climber, archer and studies Gracie Jiu Jitsu under Master Relson Gracie. He volunteers time yearly to Texas Parks and Wildlife educating the public about birds of prey as well as rehabilitating birds of prey when needed. He holds a certification as a Master Falconer and flies with a Red Tail hawk during hunting season. He actively participates in the North American Falconry Association and has travelled to England, Scotland, Abu Dhabi and Dubai representing American falconry.

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