Rhino Poachers Killed by Lions

by - July 08, 2018

You may have seen in the headlines recently that a group of suspected rhino poachers were killed in a game reserve in South Africa by a pride of 6 lions. This was first heard by an anti-poaching dog at night. It is not uncommon to hear commotion from lions at night, and so was left by the rangers and investigated in the morning where they found it was people the lions had been attacking, and very little remained.
They were identified as rhino poachers by the weaponry they had with them; wire cutters, rifles, an axe, and food supplies for several days. These are clear signs of rhino poachers over ordinary poachers. 
It seemed clear on investigation at sunrise that some, but most likely all the poachers had been killed. 

I have seen this story shared a few times with captions alluding to this being karma. I do not wholly disagree. I believe poaching rhinos is unmeasurably cruel. I think when you set out on a task this vicious and barbaric, you get what is coming to you. I think there is a strong argument that yes, this is karma, and karma's a b*tch. 

I also believe all life has value. I don't think you can measure that value, and such I do not believe human life is more (or less) valuable than that of our fellow creatures. 

Rhino poaching is inherently dangerous. Everyone knows this. Every time a rhino poacher sets out on a mission to kill a rhino, they are risking their lives. The african bush can kill you in a million different ways; lions, snakes, dehydration. Rhino poachers will shoot first against rangers, and rangers will have to defend themselves. Any rhino poaching expedition comes with risk. Great risk. 

So why do people do it?


Money is the root of all evil, is it not? The kind of money you could make from killing a rhino is much greater than you could make in one night doing something else, something legal. You risk your life for the big payout. Sell your soul; put a price on your own life; risk it all. 

But people are desperate. Rhino poachers are not just the average guy you see down the street looking to earn that extra bit of cash one night. They also aren't the ones who make the majority of the money from rhino horn sales. They are the little guy in a massive, mafia-like organisation. 
And a lot of them are probably being threatened. 

The truth is, I doubt anyone wakes up and decides to become a rhino poacher. It is not a choice anyone would make; there's nothing glamorous about it. Black market trade in rhino horn comes from a vast criminal network, and the people making most of the money and calling the shots wouldn't dare risk their lives in the bush. Poachers need the money to support their families, and they themselves/their loved ones are often threatened by these criminal gangs. Desperation will drive people to do terrible things, but part of me can understand that you would kill a rhino to save your family.

Equally, what does 6 lions killing a group of rhino poachers do for rhino conservation? 
Sadly, very little. Yes, this reserve might be a little safer from poaching if there's great fear from poachers of being mauled to death by lions. But rhino poaching will not end now because of one incident. 

My point is, yes headline screams KARMA, but there is always more to the story. 

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