Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre – South Africa

Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre – South Africa

Several factors threaten the subsistence of African animals: climate change, droughts, pollution, cutting down of natural spaces to develop arable land, illegal hunting, poisoning of felines by ranchers and the high demand for wild species due to different beliefs. The excessive growth of the population favours the advance of the settlements on the green spaces also affects the loss of the natural habitats for several species. Unfortunately, day by day, many animals are hunted, killed and/or injured. In this context, Moholoholo deals with rescuing injured animals, predators that hunt sheep or cows, or sick animals in order to protect, heal, feed them and promote their reproductive conditions. The donations of visitors who come to this rehabilitation centre help the organization to implement rescues, maintain the facilities and buy food for these poor animals.

Some Africans still have tribal beliefs that are passed down through generations and threaten the subsistence of some species. The animistic doctrine includes ancestor worship, faith healing, divination, the use of magic by the clan’s shaman, belief in spirits or energies, and ritual ceremonies. Animal sacrifices are frequent, blood is for them a source of power, a sign of life that can appease the gods along with the use of totems, songs, dances and drums.

Kruger Park, in the area near Mozambique, is the scene of several catches by South African soldiers and specialized rangers against illegal hunters. Unfortunately, there is an international demand for wild animals due to religious beliefs, or curative properties assigned by traditional medicines. For example, the horn of the rhinos is required in Vietnam and China because traditional medicine believes that they have properties such as the cure of cancer and the increase of sexual vigour, which has increased its price in the black market – a 10-kilo piece is sold for one million euros. For these reasons, gangster commando groups use heavy weapons, helicopters and night vision goggles to hunt pachyderms. Those illegal hunters corrupt politicians and police officers to allow them to get the horns out of the country. The fear generated by those armed groups is also the reason why many private families do not want to have rhinos on their properties, to avoid exposing themselves to attacks.

Lion claws and teeth are sought after as amulets: elephant ivory is also in high demand, eating a lion’s heart give strength and courage according to tribal beliefs and tiger bones are supposed to have healing properties. Pangolins, small scale-covered animals that eat ants, are hunted in order to make a paste with their scales, which they think have beneficial attributions for lactation, arthritis and other conditions. In Africa, certain groups believe that the eyes of vultures provide a sharp vision that allows predicting the future (to win the lottery, find a good husband or wife, etc.). Those types of absurd beliefs are the cause of thousands of massacres, which little by little are destroying African biodiversity. The vultures are exposed to other risks: some times they are poisoned with baits left by illegal hunters so they do not fly over the area and reveal their position to the surveillance rangers.

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