Confronting the Rhino in the Room

Rhino and goat

A small herd of cattle cross in front of us as we we walk down the dirt road to visit another family in Welverdiend, a community adjacent to South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Joseph, our guide and the son of an InDuna, or village headman, points out a fairly non-descript house. Like other houses in the neighborhood, it is made of concrete cinder blocks and sits in the middle of a dirt yard. Joseph informs us that a known rhino poacher lives inside. The man was arrested for poaching and spent a few months in jail, but has sinced been released. We ask if people in the community care that he poaches. “At first people refused to greet him,” Joseph replies. “But no one really cares anymore.”

In South Africa’s low-veld—where we are conducting our fieldwork—there are flashy billboards, a myriad of wildlife charities and even an entire three-day music festival all dedicated to protecting the rhinoceros. To show sympathy to the cause, residents in the area fasten red plastic rhino horns to the fronts of their vehicles. Just the other day we oversaw a ceremony for bride wealth negotiations, and each door inside the family’s home displayed a sticker —> Read More Here


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