On a recent trip to Cape Town with the Brumbies (to play the Stormers in a Super Rugby qualifying final) I managed to catch up with Adrian Steirn. Adrian is well known for his 21 Icons project (the first season included the last portrait taken of Nelson Mandela), as well as using images and videos as a means to stimulate discussion and action around a number of issues. I was blown away by his passion for the work that he is doing to highlight the plight of wildlife - especially rhino in Southern Africa, currently being poached for their horns at a rate of 1000+/year. I know rhinos get a lot more press than other species under threat in Africa (African Wild Dog, Pangolin, etc), but that doesn't change that they are infinitely worth saving.
He told me about recently photographing a rhino named Hope. Hope was found alive after having her horn hacked off by poachers. Adrian describes Hope as "a rhino that represents a species on the brink." He documented the hours of surgery and care to save Hope's life and, while the below images are graphic, I believe they are extremely powerful.
The people working to protect and save rhinos are truly amazing, putting their safety at risk to protect these magnificent animals. The issues around the trade of ivory and rhino horn are complex and it will take time to reduce demand - in the mean time the tireless effort of game rangers all over Africa is crucial. As is our support.
To support this vital work, check out Save African Rhino Foundation
Here's a short video that's well worth a watch.
'Thandi's calf: the rhino that should never have been born'