Tag: rhino horn

Blowing your own horns

Dear John Hume,

Congratulations on being the world’s largest rhino breeder. How big are you? Are you the size of a rhino? It doesn’t matter. For all I know, rhino breeders are tiny and you are simply the largest of these small people.

john-hume-rhinos

Most people keep dogs and cats, but not you, John. You’re a rhino person. It makes sense. Rhinos don’t sit on your keyboard while you’re trying to work. They don’t hog the couch or take up half the bed. You don’t wake up in the morning to a blast of rhino breath and have to get up and take him for a walk.

Of course, nobody would want to collect rhinos purely for their ornamental value. So it must have been terribly frustrating for you when trade in rhino horn was banned in South Africa in 2009. It would have driven me insane, seeing my rhinos standing about all day doing absolutely nothing to earn their keep.

What good are their horns if they’re not even being used to stab German tourists? At the best of times, rhinos don’t even know what to do with their horns. They just stand there staring at them all day. That’s why so many rhinos are crosseyed. A lot of them are also just plain cross. I suppose it’s because they’re not living at your place, the Playboy Mansion for rhinos, even if it is in Klerksdorp. Rhinos can’t tell that the place is a dump. Even if they did, I doubt they’d care. They’re just happy not to get shot in the face by a gentleman from Mozambique.

So it must’ve been a tremendous relief when the court forced the environmental affairs department to give you a permit to hold your three-day online auction this week. It’s a good thing we have an independent judiciary that knows the true value of one of our big five.

I tried to register for the auction but the R100 000 deposit was a bit steep. Pity. I was so looking forward to bagging a couple of the 264 horns for my own personal use. To be honest, I would have preferred a whole rhino so that I could cut his horn off at my leisure. If you buy a gram of coke, the dealer doesn’t expect you to schnarf it the moment money changes hands. You can take it home and shove it up your nose when the mood takes you. It should be the same with rhinos. Not that I’d schnarf rhino horn. I’m not from Hanoi, you know.

I understand you have 1500 rhinos in your garden. I bet you’ve never been burgled. It’s just occurred to me that rhinos could solve both our poverty and crime problems. Not literally. They’re not awfully bright. Although stick a couple of them in cheap suits and put them around the table at a cabinet meeting and I bet nobody would even notice their lack of input.

What I’m suggesting is that everyone gets a rhino farm. Or at least their own state-subsidised rhino. They make wonderful pets and even better guard dogs. Guard rhinos. I know I wouldn’t rob a house if there was a rhino curled up at the front door. And if you fall on hard times, you can chop his horn off and sell it. That’s R2-million right there. Keep the family in KFC for years.

Your job sounds like a lot of fun. Every couple of years, you grab your tranquiliser gun and run about shooting your fleet of ungulates in the bum. I’m sure they get a big kick out of the chase, too. It’s something to break the tedium, anyway. They fall over, have a little nap and wake up a kilogram or two lighter. We could all be so lucky.

When the horns grow back, you do it all over again. No wonder you have six tons of the stuff lying about the place. Must drive your wife crazy. There’s not much you can do with them either. Doorstoppers. Wind chimes. Something to hang your coat on. That’s about it. Then again, your stash is worth at least R500-million. That’s the kind of language any wife would understand.

The ban on international trade is still in place and your permit stipulates that any horns sold have to stay in South Africa. Of course they will. Our environmental affairs minister says systems are in place to prevent horns from reaching the black market. In fact, so secure are our borders that the only way to smuggle a horn out would be to take it to the Saxonwold shebeen, have it cling wrapped in R200 notes and couriered to the Waterkloof air force base.

I noticed that your auction website was translated into Mandarin and Vietnamese. This is nothing more than a happy coincidence. You are a man who embraces many cultures and not, as the vegetarians would have it, a man sending out a dog-whistle to the epicentre of the illicit trade in rhino horn.

An average of three rhinos are poached in this country every day. But, as you so rightly point out, flooding the ‘domestic’ market with hundreds of your horns will reduce demand and poachers will be out of a job in no time at all. It’s the same with marijuana. Legalise it and nobody would want it any more. Dagga farmers would have to start growing mielies and stoners would take up golf.

I read that a group called the National Frog Agency hacked your website, claiming that “your lack of common compassion for animals is outrageous”. Ignore them. What is more outrageous is that they can’t tell the difference between a frog and a rhino. This is what happens when you spend your afternoons licking hallucinogenic toads.

You were reported as saying that the proceeds of the auction – which could easily be R200-million – would be spent on protecting your herd. It’s an odd way to describe your family, but then I haven’t met them. Try to keep a bit of money aside for yourself. Buy something nice. Not another rhino. Something you don’t have to keep darting and sawing its nose off.

Listen, John. I have an idea for a movie. It’s called Saving Private Rhino. State Security Minister, David Mahlobo, would be perfect for the villain. I think we can get him. Throw in a free Thai massage and he’s ours. I would want to avoid getting into the whole black rhino, white rhino thing. This isn’t a movie about race. It’s about exploitation and getting as rich as possible off the backs of these dumb brutes. I’m talking about the actors, not the rhinos.

Let’s do lunch.

PS. Say hi to your good mate Dawie Groenewald, a trophy hunter and, like you, a true friend of the rhino. Obviously those 26 dehorned rhino found in a mass grave on his property died peacefully in their sleep. The poor guy is already facing so many charges here and now the Americans want to extradite him. You conservationists really do have a tough time.

Ben-rhino

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A letter to the horn-happy hunters

Dear Dawie Groenewald and your gay brother, Janneman. Sorry, Janneman. Maybe you aren’t gay. But what the hell kind of name is Janneman? It’s fucked up, that’s what it is. You got the good name, Dawie, no doubt about it. A real South African name. The kind of name you want to have if you’re going to grow up and rip people off and kill rhinos and cause all sorts of shit. Janneman probably mixes the martinis while you’re out there hacking the horns off. I hope you don’t split the money. Although I must say it’s a helluva lot harder to mix the perfect martini than it is to shoot a drugged rhino from nine metres. So you hunt in Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and right here in South Africa. Your farm, Prachtig, is 60kms south of Musina in Limpopo Province. I’m just pointing this out for the benefit of hunters and not so that normal people can find out where you live and burn your house down. The US government has charged your ass with conspiracy to sell illegal rhino hunts to American hunters, money laundering and secretly trafficking in rhino horns. That’s some pretty badass shit, my bru. An 18-count indictment. Sounds heavy. Of course, that means shit out here. Get the right lawyer and the right judge and you’re home in time for sundowners. In America, I reckon it might mean something else. Americans aren’t big on mercy. They want to nail your ass. And if they can’t, they will grab someone else’s ass and find a way to call it yours. That’s where you went wrong. You were so focused on rhino horns that you forgot to lay a false trail for the Feds. It happens to the best of us. The only reason I heard about you was because I bought a local paper that had used an AFP story out of Washington and noticed the headline, “US charges SA duo over illegal rhino hunts.” It was a small piece buried on page seven, which means that, at most, nine people know about what you and your brother have been up to. You’re safe. Fourteen million people know what Jacob Zuma and his handlangers are up to, and we don’t really give a damn. I’m going to be frank, bru. You blew it. But you blew it right from the start. If you’re going to be helping Americans kill rhinos with the express intention of fucking them over (the Americans – the rhinos are already fucked), then you shouldn’t have called yourself Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris. It’s a ridiculous name. You obviously saw the movie with Robert Redford and Meryl whatshername. But if you’d read the book, which you wouldn’t have done because I would willingly have my left leg chopped off if it could be shown that you and Janneman had read anything more complicated than the K53 driver’s license manual … where was I? Anyway. I checked out your website. It’s like a wet dream for people like Oscar Pistorius, although not really because wildebeest will hardly ever break into your toilet. “Bring a bolt action or a double rifle (muzzleloaders are welcome). For Buffalo, Rhino and Elephant, a minimum calibre of 375 is required. All calibres bigger than this are welcome. For Lions, Leopard, Antelopes and other medium game a calibre of 300 or 30-06 will be sufficient. For dangerous game, 40 full metal-jacket cartridges as well as 40 soft-point cartridges are required. For medium game you will need at least 80 soft-point cartridges. Fit your rifle with a good quality scope with variable power; 1.5-6 x 42, 2.2-9 x 42 or the like. For transportation of your rifle between hunting areas, a soft case per gun is required.” You don’t regard lions and leopards as dangerous game? I suppose if they’re on anti-depressants, I guess they ain’t that dangerous. You’re asking $25 500 for a ten-day buffalo and sable hunt? That’s insane. I can go to a game auction and pay less for a buffalo and a flock of sable and put them in the back of my car. Take them home and scatter them about my yard. Your price for a three-day “rhino darting safari” starts at $10 000 per hunter. That’s, like, R100 000. It seems a bit fucking steep to play darts with a rhino. Still and all. You’re a high stakes, classy outfit, even offering “green” hunts that involve the more sensitive hunter firing a tranquiliser into the rhino and then letting him pose with the sedated animal for a tastefully lit photograph. After which you send him to the bar for a gin and tonic while a sweaty brute hacks the horn off and you ship it to Hanoi a day or two later. But to get back to your price list. To gun down a lechwe in Mpumalanga costs a mere $3 950. Lechwe, and I mean no disrespect to lechwe, are lazy. If there were traffic lights in the bush, lechwe would be the first to hang around waiting for a handout. Shooting them is probably doing them a favour. I only hope their families get some of the money. What else do you have on your menu? A baboon in Limpopo goes for $200. Really? I know baboons who will sell their young for a quarter of the price. And a bushpig for $600 is just silly. You can sit in your car with a beer between your legs and a carrot in your hand and a bushpig will walk right up to you. If he could talk, he would say, “Six hundred dollars? You’ve been had. I’m a pig who lives in the bush. I wouldn’t pay twenty dollars for me. Anyway. At least let me eat the carrot. Then you can blow my brains out.” I don’t know, Dawie, but $3 800 for a giraffe seems unreasonable. It sticks its head into your rondavel looking for an apple and you put your 9mm against its temple and pull the trigger. You don’t even have to get out of bed. I’m not saying it’s unsporting, but in terms of effort versus expenditure, there’s a bit of a gap. Your price of $350 for a porcupine strikes me as fair. These little fuckers walk about as if they own the place, but the moment you pick him up to put him on the barbecue he shoots a million quills into your face. Fuck him. Zebra seems a tad overpriced at $1800. They’re just gay horses, really. And they know it, too. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them that stripes went out in the 80s, they just love to be stroked and admired. And when it comes time to kill them, they prefer it to be done at sunset with a crossbow. While Frank Sinatra plays in the background. You might have to explain to your zebra that the real Frank Sinatra wasn’t available. Don’t tell him that Frank is dead because he will probably kill himself, which will deprive everyone of an income. I was intrigued by your list of supplies that you recommend clients bring with them. Two pairs of hunting trousers? What the hell are hunting trousers? Two pairs I can understand, because one might soil the first pair should an impala spring unannounced from the bush. A pair of gloves I can understand. You are, after all, running a criminal enterprise and the last thing you want is the FBI lifting a clean set of prints off a warthog gunned down under suspicious circumstances. I am, I must say, mystified by your requirement of “1 razor with blades or batteries”. Is this to shave a dead animal? Kudu can be hairy, yes, but why would that offend you? And if not for the animals, do you prefer your hunters to be clean-shaven? Perhaps Janneman insists upon it. I know a lot of men who have had bad experiences with scratchy beards. Actually, that’s not true. I just don’t want Janneman to feel like he’s some sort of freak. The last thing we want is Janneman building a nuclear weapon, right, Dawie? LOL. So you pulled the wool over the South African police’s eyes for all these years. I expect it wasn’t that difficult. But now you’ve discovered that the US Fish and Wildlife Service are/is bit brighter than our boys and girls. America wants to extradite you. Nou is julle in die kak. Although not necessarily. It depends on who you know in the government. Do you know people in the government? Of course you do. You wouldn’t have got yourselves this deep in the shit if you didn’t. Can they get you out? Maybe. Your biggest mistake was ripping off the Yanks. They don’t care if other nationalities get fucked over, but don’t mess with a US citizen, even if he is a brain-damaged intra-bred redneck from, well, he could be from anywhere. “Good shot, Tex!” “So ya’ll gonna wrap up my horn or what?” “No can do, Tex. You aren’t allowed to take rhino horn out of the country. But you can take a picture of it!” Tex goes home and the horn goes to Vietnam. Everyone’s happy. Except the rhino. You found a loophole there, Dawie. But you forgot one thing. Never bullshit an American who carries a gun. He’s either gonna kill you, fuck you or take you to court. You fucked with the wrong people, Dawie. You can’t charge for the hunt and then sell the horns on the sly. If there’s one thing Americans hate, it’s double dipping. Alabama’s US Attorney, George Beck, said: “Not only did they break South African laws, but they laundered their ill-gotten gains through our banks here in Alabama. Jesus, bro. You could’ve gotten away with poaching rhino and ripping off Americans. You could’ve got away with almost anything. But did nobody ever tell you not to fuck with the banks of Alabama? Did you think you’d be alright because you’re white? Those days are over, my friend. Say howzit to Oscar.

An Open Letter to Kenny “Caligula” Kunene

Dear Kenny,

I am bitterly disappointed that you hosted yet another of your Dionysian bacchanalia without inviting me. Is it because I’m white? I hope not. You see, Kenny, like you, I too have done time in prison. Okay, so it wasn’t quite the six years you served. Truth be told, it wasn’t much more than a long weekend. But still. We spring from the same rotten roots and should stick together.

I hear you have decided to give up guzzling sushi from the taut bellies of half-naked models. Smart move. You have obviously realised that, unlike the poor, sushi will not always be with us. Between global warming, marine pollution and the ravening Japanese, there will come a time when there are no fish left in the sea. Since there is little danger of the world running out of beautiful women, I suggest that at your next epicurean orgy you eat the model herself. Even though women have a high threshold to pain, it might be best to drug her beforehand. Going by the photograph of you emptying a bottle of champagne into the blonde sprawled across a Maserati at the recent launch of your new club in Cape Town, you seem to know what you are doing in the anaesthetic department.

Once your minions have determined that she is comfortably numb, your guests could use ornate scalpels crafted from the last of the Mayan silver to slice wafer-thin strips from the more succulent parts of her body. Think about it. Human carpaccio. You will be even more of a legend, my friend.

If you are short of ideas for your next Saturday night saturnalia, here are a few courtesy of food writer DBC Pierre: Kiwi and hummingbird broth; Western fanshell souffle with black rhino horn; Caramelised white tiger cub; Confit of koala leg with lemon saffron chutney; Giant Panda paw with borlotti beans; Golden lion tamarin brain and blue cheese ravioli; Olive Ridley turtle necks in parmesan and brioche crumbs.

Although I applaud you for setting an outstanding example for the youth of this fine nation of ours, I have to say that I am a little put off by the whole black Elvis thing you’ve got going. Why model yourself on a piece of white trash from Memphis? I see you as more of a capitalist Jesus figure turning Chardonnay into Dom Perignon and wearing robes made from antimatter. To the untrained eye, you will appear naked. But to the rest of your adoring fans, the emperor will indeed be wearing the rarest and most expensive material known to humankind.

A word of advice. Maintain a safe distance from Julius Malema, the idiot savant who keeps trying to hold your hand whenever you throw one of your soirees. Not only has he suggested that the ANC has shares in your stately pleasure-dome, but he also dared Helen Zille’s jackbooted Fun Police to try to stop you from serving alcohol to the guardians of the revolution after 2am. Be warned. In these here parts, folk don’t take kindly to war talk.

Put me on your guest list. Or else.

Satyrically yours,

Ben Trovato