This picture was taken in 1988. The building is part of the Mana Pools National Park warden’s complex in the Zambezi valley, Zimbabwe. The skulls are from black rhino collected by wildlife staff as they waged an unwinnable war against poachers.
At the time the photograph was taken it didn’t seem that there was anything that could be done. Rhino horn was a valuable resource. One animal provided income enough to feed the poacher and his family for a year and in a poor country this meant a lot. Plus wherever there is a resource humans seem to find a way of exploiting it for commercial gain.
In the end it was too costly to police the river front environment and the rhino population continued to decline, even though the dense bush was ideal habitat.
By 1993 the total number of black rhino in Africa was 2,400 and the Zambezi valley, the largest stronghold of the species was decimated.
When it became clear that prevention wouldn’t work a translocation program was initiated. Rhino were darted and, much their annoyance, transported south to ranches and reserves further south.
It seemed to me that this was a desperate, rather costly and probably not very effective approach.
Yet in 2008 the total population of Black Rhino in Africa was 4,240.
Maybe it worked.
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