Kalahari Dehorning as a Last Resort
Updated: Mar 6
In early June 2022, SFW helped to sponsor a rhino dehorning mission alongside a number of other reputable organizations and individuals including Rhino Revolution, Wild Response, and the Council of Contributors.
Dehorning rhinos is an emotional journey for anyone with a passion for wildlife conservation, as it is a tool that is working at the moment to deter poachers from killing them but is something we wish we never had to do in the first place. This practice currently can reduce the likelihood of poaching by over 90%. Desperate times call for desperate measures and unfortunately, these species and many, many more do not receive the support they need to have a fighting chance. Currently, we are losing. However, we will not give up on the rhino. They have survived peacefully on this planet for millions of years – long before man arrived. And yet, they will not survive us. What does that say?
All of the time and effort we put into saving these animals feels as if all we are doing is reapplying a wet bandage to a severed artery because of the lack of support from an international body. Without that support, we will watch this species slide into extinction in the near future.
Population numbers are dwindling, with recent reports showing a decade-long decline of over 70% in Kruger and the Greater Kruger national parks alone. (1) The rhino may be the face of extinction across Africa and get the most attention, however, we are well into the 6th mass extinction event of this planet's history due to our severe disconnect from reality and where we belong in the circle of life.
"We are not separate from nature, we are a part of it. But as long as we are misguided and distracted by things that do not matter, we will continue to lose." - John Garcia, SFW President
For the first time in the history of our planet, one species has in its hands the fate of millions of others around the globe and we continue to let them down. One of the most common mistakes we make is believing that someone somewhere must be saving these animals. The world of people who are working to do this is not big at all and do not have nearly enough numbers to save them.
Time is not on our side and policies won’t change soon enough. The amount of time and effort we must put into working in the field, fundraising, spreading awareness, and witnessing the horror is exhausting and frankly very mentally wearing and disappointing.
In this operation, we dehorned 17 rhinos in just a few days that were in a very vulnerable area, and unfortunately from the air, found 2 dead carcasses as a result of poaching. But on a brighter note, we were honored and humbled to be a part of such a great and hard-working group of individuals on this mission. This work must go on, it is our responsibility.
This particular mission we will remember forever for a couple of reasons. The first was that the coordination, chemistry, and passion of every single person involved was nothing short of incredible. Thank you to all of those involved. We hope to work together again very soon.
Secondly, it was one of our dear friends and fellow conservationist's last adventure and mass dehorning mission. For those of you who don’t know, Anna Mussi was the managing director of Rhino Revolution and was only 32 years old when she passed away tragically after a traffic incident on the 21st of June.
Fortunately, we got to spend some of her last days with her and will certainly never forget them. She was taken far too soon and was the kind of person who unintentionally left her mark on everyone she came into contact with. There just isn’t enough we can say about such a remarkable and beautiful soul. She was someone you always wanted around and everyone loved to work alongside her. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, the rest of her friends, and all of those she touched. We can’t say it much better than Rhino Revolution themselves… This video will be dedicated To Anna Mussi:
Most of us in conservation are called into this world by pure passion. It’s physically and emotionally extremely taxing and we all have our highs and lows. You know someone is special when they can fuel your passion just by their presence. That’s who Anna was.
Anna, we will miss you dearly. She lives in all of us now and we don’t know about everyone else, but in the back of our heads, she’s still cracking the whip and telling us to get to work and that we have species and habitats to save and hearts and minds to win. Thank you for being you. Rest in peace.
Thank you for your continued support, we couldn't do what we do if you didn't do what you do. Please stay in touch, please share our cause with others, and continue to step with us towards a brighter future for wildlife everywhere.
The SFW Team