by Nicolette van Brakel
Few animals face as violent, as well organised, and as determined an enemy as the world’s rhinos. Across the continent, rhinos are being slaughtered on a daily basis and approximately 5,000 black rhinos and 21,000 white rhinos are all that prevent Africa’s rhinos from extinction.
The Rhino Keepers is a personal story of the conservation of the rhinos in Southern Africa. It charts the ongoing struggle for survival of these amazing animals told through the experiences and insights of preeminent conservationists, Clive and Anton Walker. Clive’s and Anton’s book describes these fascinating animals and the reason behind their historical decline, the myths that surround them and discusses the resurrection of the rhino horn trade. They carefully unpack the complications of opening up a ‘legal’ trade in horn and the views of those who oppose such measures.
This real life account of the rhino wars presents a harrowing story that underscores the enormous challenges that lie ahead for conservation in a world where rhino horns sold by the gram raise double the price of gold and are more expensive than cocaine in the end-user Asian markets.
This book is for anyone who has been appalled over the past few years at the senseless slaughter of these magnificent animals. It urges readers to question the way we manage our natural heritage and implores us to recognise our role as rhino keepers of the future.
Clive Walker entered the battle for the rhino with the founding of the Endangered Wildlife Trust in 1973. He co-founded the Rhino and Elephant Foundation and the African Rhino Owners Association, and served on the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group for close on 14 years. He served as a member of the South African National Parks Board from 2000 to 2006.
Clive’s son, Anton Walker, as a school boy, travelled together with his father to India and Nepal in 1984 to view the one-horned Indian rhinos and tigers in the wild. Anton largely grew up at Lapalala Wilderness where his parents assisted the late Dale Parker in the establishment of the reserve which has become an important rhino sanctuary. Lapalala was the first private reserve in South Africa to introduce the black rhino. Anton joined the permanent staff of the reserve in 1996 and is today the general manager of the 36,000-ha sanctuary. He has worked closely with both species of rhino over the past 16 years in all areas of management, monitoring, field operations, capture and care.
A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to Waterberg Museum Foundation’s Rhino Programme.
The Rhino Keepers: Struggle for Survival. Clive and Anton Walker, Jacana, 2012.
by Nicolette van Brakel, FGASA (Field Guide Association of South Africa)
reprinted by permission