2 months ago I started my walking quest from Cologne. Where has it got me?
Well I have walked 743 km and have made it to Magdeburg. Along the way I have cared for my brother as he gently passed away from the same cancer I was diagnosed with nearly 2 years ago. I also have had a week of treatment at the Herzog Clinic. This has been harder than I ever thought possible – both physically and emotionally. However my spirit has never dimmed, my commitment has never been stronger, my mission is too important. The rhino is too important.
Rhinos have continued to be needlessly and mercilessly massacred. Almost 500 at the half way mark of 2013. The world is crying out but :
Asian demand is in a frenzy;
Africa is unable to protect this “asset” and prevent recruits to the poaching trade;
Criminal gangs are making massive short-term profits;
International law enforcement and border agencies are underfunded and lack support.
We must continue the campaign, the fight must go on. We cannot allow the remaining rhino species to become extinct.
My journey has had some remarkable experiences directly related to rhinos. In a previous post I described feeding and touching a rhino at the Frankfurt Zoo (https://gabywalksforrhinos.com/2013/06/13/to-touch-a-rhino/). I was also quite aware of the Woolly Rhinocerous – which roamed Europe and together with the Mammoth became extinct (likely cause was an Ice Age) more than 10, 000 years ago. On my wandering I found a village deep in the centre of Germany called Buhlen where in 1963 a massive cache of Mammoth and Woolly Rhino bones were found. There was considerable evidence of Neanderthal axes and that the site was an abattoir.
I also came across, by total coincidence, the Einhornhoehle…this translates to one-horn cave or unicorn cave. We had to stop and explore.
This cave has been the gathering place and final resting place of thousands of animals (70 species including bears, lions, wolves, bats…) over many thousands of years. Discovered by humans in the 16th century, an unscrupulous person , Gottfried Leibniz, wrote that locals traded in Unicorn bones found in this cave! Leibniz draw a picture of a unicorn based on various unrelated bones found in this cave. The powder from the bones was marketed as a cure for all sorts of illnesses and maladies, driving a very lucrative but crooked business with NO medicinal benefit! Sound familiar ????
The demand dried up after 150 years or so, probably as people realised this had no medicinal value or word got out that it was random bones and not unicorns. I don’t know if there is a lesson there about how to stop the demand for rhino horn, but it is a fact that modern medicine relies on clinical trials which do not exist for rhino horn treatments! A report prepared in April 2012 by TRAFFIC for CITES (the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species) concludes:
Rhino horn has always been a relatively scarce commodity, and is becoming more so. Rarity underpins the value rhino horn is acquiring as a luxury item (art carvings, “rhino horn wine for millionaires” in Viet Nam), and probably also contributes to the elevated and unwarranted reputation of rhino horn as a miracle medicine that can work when others fail. Rarity contributes to the very high reported prices for rhino horn, to the extent that people are taking great risks to poach rhinos and steal horns and horn carvings from museums. Rarity would seem to be the main factor, more than any intrinsic value or properties of the horn itself, coupled with rising wealth in East and Southeast Asia, which is inflating a bubble of demand for rhino horn.
It seems that for as long as there has been recorded history, humans have traded for pure short-term self-interest. Maybe we need to provide a deep supply of keratin to the market. All the nail studios and hairdressers of the world need to unite to recycle clippings and then this floods the market!!
Where else have I been since Frankfurt?
Bad Nauheim & Friedberg (where Elvis spent his Army service years) ,
Giessen (near to the Limes, the 2000 year old 550km long border between the Romans and the Germanic tribes)
Marburg (the magnificent university city),
EderSee (a 100 year old dam), and Waldeck
Borken Lake (where a coal mine was turned into a massive lake and thriving nature reserve) ,
Homburg (the oldest continuous running restaurant in Hessen – since 1480),
Kassel (on Hessen Day, where the Kaisers built a huge palace, “love castle” , water paradise and massive monument to Hercules that was just awarded UNESCO World Heritage status),
the old West/East German border (one point in the Harz mountains)
…and we have seen many more interesting things and met many folk who now know about the rhino’s critical situation.
Here is a copy of our latest German flyer that we are using as a storyboard in conversations and delivering to thousand of people.
The walk has been tracked scrupulously with my GPS which I carry at all times, together with a paper map. We tweak the route along the way while keeping the major milestones. However at times I have struggled to stay on course and tracks disappear or a path is really a unwalkable major road or building works/floods get in the way. In a previous post we talked about the “makeup miles” I have walked , which unable to travel as I was caring for my brother or at the clinic. I applied these 181 kms today and moved from Goettingen to Magdeburg. The map below shows my current progress. Manager says I’m on schedule.
Until next time,