The thing about rhinos is, they eat a lot and they eat every day. They don't skip for Christmas, New Year's or for 67 minutes on 18 July. They eat all the time. So, now if you have a local government election to rig, you know, there are just so many hours in every day and feeding the rhinos is all of a sudden not that important. Not to Daniel Ngwenya, the municipal manager of the Nkomazi district. He is quoted in Beeld of 3 August 2016, as saying in essence that rhinos can't expect to be cared for during local government elections, not in the Leeuspruit Game reserve under the municipality's administration. So the small herd of rhinos had to forego food and, well, starve until further notice.
When the news broke – and what news it was! – every animal rights non-profit robber gang within hollering distance went to work. Oh the wailing! and the gnashing of teeth! and the public fulminations! and the tearing of clothes! Sackcloth and ashes, people! Because that it what animal rights activists do: they shout and foam about the mouth and rile and curse and threaten and reproach and… and ask for money. Always ask for money. That's what they do. They need money, lots of money… to shout and foam about the mouth and rile and curse and threaten and reproach. Mean to say, foaming about the mouth takes dedication; it does not come cheap. Donate! Donate! Donate!
One would think that an animal rights NGO's purpose would be to assist animals in distress. Well, it isn't. Their entire life's purpose is to scream and quiver in rage about animals in distress. And then to ask for donations. That's it. Therefore, when these rhinos in the Leeuspruit were running low on fodder, social media platforms positively zinged like high-tension power lines as the activists unloaded and fulminated. And don't forget to donate. But nary a blade of grass did they contribute. They left that to the clods who actually work for a living… and never ask for donations.
While the animal rights warriors were thus tossing feverishly in their beds, distressed over the rhinos, and even more perturbed about rival animal rights gangs actually punting the “donate” button harder than they, hard-working farmers got up, loaded bales of lucerne on trucks and carted it off to feed the rhinos.
Once again the initiative was taken by the South African Predator Association. Predator? No, rhinos don't qualify as predators, but SAPA's members are true lovers of animals, any animals. And this fondness is not expressed in the eye-rolling, hand-wringing outbursts of the activists, but in actually doing something to alleviate the plight of animals in need.
Talk is cheap, except when animal rights activists do it. They demand money so that they can do their talking. Remember to donate. But actually doing something to help animals is hard work, time consuming and expensive – SAPA just gets it done. Food was delivered to the emaciated rhinos. Hats off to SAPA CEO, Carla van der Vyver and Pat Loots, SAPA EXCO member who once again initiated and coordinated this magnificent project with help from Terry Calavitis from Uitkomst Game Breeders, Ian Otto and staff. The rhinos will never know your names, but you saved their lives.
And back on conservation funny farm – oh! the recriminations, the spraying tear ducts, the drumming on the chests. They yowled so mightily that animal rightists from other niches felt terribly left out. What's the big deal with the rhinos, anyway?
Or as CACH's Chris Mercer would say: "In the wild, there are more rhino than lions, although one would not think so from the hysteria over rhino."
And don't forget to donate.