Ever so often at Mpora, something lands on our desks that fills our hearts with a deep and mournful sadness. Something that gives the epic skateboarding slams, the crazy skiing stunts, the origami kayaks, and the weird fish, a much-needed sense of perspective.
The viral images of armed rangers defending the world's last Northern white rhino male from poachers is one of those things, one of those things we just talked about. Hats off to those defending these animals, that now teeter on the edge of extinction, but how did it come to this? How, as a human race, have we allowed this to happen? There's only one male left...ONE...and he's called Sudan.
Sudan lives in the Ol Pejeta wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. Ol Pejeta is a 90,000 acre space, that's also home to 105 black rhinos and 23 white rhinos (not the same as northern white rhinos).
At one point, in the 1960s, there were more than 2,000 northern white rhinos in the wild. According to data provided by the World Wildlife Fund, intense poaching had reduced this number to a mere 15 just twenty years later. From 2,000 to 15, from 15 to 3 (one male, two females), the numbers make for a truly depressing read.
The northern white rhinos are defended by an elite arm of 40 Kenyan rangers, affectionately dubbed the 'Rhino Rangers'. Over the next six months, these men will bravely risk their lives to protect this species from poachers. The rangers are paid for by a GoFundMe campaign page called 'Keep the Rhino Rangers Safe'.
Although the campaign was started in February, it is only recent viral attention on social media, that has seen interest in the campaign rocket dramatically. At the time of writing this article, the campaign had raised over £25,000.
In the last 24 hours, organisers of the campaign posted this statement online:
"We're overwhelmed by your support and would like to sincerely thank each and every one of you who have donated and shared this fundraiser on behalf of our rangers and Sudan."
The rangers were originally funded by the country's lucrative tourism industry but Western fears over Ebola, terrorist attacks - most recently on Garissa University, and the economic impact of pirates on the Mombasa coast, has caused this funding to be severely curtailed.