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Kim Schulze

Shock Lack of Tactics

2012-06-18 09:57
"Are those gory pics you’re posting making you feel like you’re helping the cause?"

It seems the internets are going through another spate of posting gory pictures of mutilated rhinos on Facebook and Twitter. The latest saying "if you care you’ll share". These pics are horrifying. They show a candid and awful reality of how these precious animals are butchered for their horns.

But can someone please explain to me what posting those despicable photos achieves?

Do you fly off urgently to your online banking after you’ve posted it to make a donation to one of the five hundred rhino-saving organisations out there? Or the people skydiving, running, cycling, drinking water and taking vows of silence to save rhinos? Oh, you don’t?

Or, do you suspect that one of your sneaky Facebook friends might actually BE a rhino poacher? Caw! You’d better post that picture then, to make them stop. Oh no wait, they actually COMMIT the brutal hacking, live, in the flesh. The picture isn’t exactly going to put them off, is it?

You’ll find that gory footage or pictures are rare, if not completely absent from news sources. They don’t show limbs ripped from the bodies of children in Afghanistan; they don’t show children being executed in Syria. Why do you think this is?

It’s unnecessary.

Doesn’t the news itself suffice? Isn’t hearing that over sixty people were killed in a wave of bomb blasts in Iraq this week horrifying enough? We don’t need to see the bodies sprawled all over mosques to know that it happened or find it shocking and tragic. Yes, we’re shown bodies covered in sheets or in body bags being carried off. This is a content and credibility thing: "Look we are here, seeing this".

But typically, humans aren’t built to cope with very graphic, TRUE information. We’d need to be debriefed like soldiers, journos and rescue personnel if we were perpetually exposed to the raw reality. Not to mention that children are often around while the news is on and when papers are lying on desks.

So is it that each of us now feels like a "news breaking" citizen-journalist when we post these awful rhino pictures? Do you feel like it’s a service to your social network, and to the plight of rhinos?

Do you think people aren’t aware of how serious it is? This argument can go on, and the various initiatives out there raising money, awareness and campaigning government for solutions are trying quite hard. I can’t tell you what the clear-cut answer to the problem is, but I can tell you, it’s not posting these horrid photos.

We cling so desperately to sensationalism and excitement – and yes, pics of mutilated rhinos IS excitement, albeit not of the happy kind. Why else are you posting them in such haste? "Oh my, because you are just SHOCKED at how graphic it is, and LOOK at this poor rhino". I don’t mean to be callous, but what the fuck do you think happens to a rhino once it’s killed for its horn? Do you need to see it to believe it?

It obviously comes down to my personal opinion and right to NOT see mutilated rhinos, on what I consider to be a friendly social network. Quite simply: ME, I don’t want to see the graphic evidence. I find it incredibly upsetting and disturbing. Does that then make me take some drastic action, like run to parliament with placards to demand government do something? No. Did it make you do anything of the sort? No. All it does is level up a certain degree of trauma.

I suppose my point at the end of it all is that posting vivid pictures, or even putting a penis on a rhino-spear painting, is not going to solve the problem. When it comes to rhinos, awareness is no longer the problem: We all know. South Africans know. We need to go to court. Do something constructive. Some argue that legalised and therefore controlled horn trade might be a solution. Some seem to think the poisoning of the horns will be a deterrent.

I personally think that’s a bit impotent, and that they’ll figure out a way of extracting any poison. But whatever it is that you believe will help, posting those pictures is not it.

If you REALLY care, go find out what people are doing. Hundreds of rhino-saving organisations have popped up in the past year, along with those which already existed.

This year’s Put Foot Rally is raising funds both for school shoes and rhinos. There are ways of constructively fighting for rhinos and their conservation. Instead of kidding yourself into thinking you’re doing something by posting a pic on Facebook, or clicking "like" on it, get real. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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