Yesterday we were very fortunate to be able to skype Karen Stadler, the teacher from South Africa who created the Travelling Rhinos project which we are currently participating in.
Five toy rhinos travel the world, hopping from classroom to classroom to raise awareness about the plight of wild rhinos. By joining this project, our class is undertaking to raise our local community’s awareness about this endangered species.
After we had done a little bit of reading about rhinos, the children prepared a set of questions to ask Karen. Here is a summary of the interview:
Mollie: “Our class has received Lesedi, one of the five toy rhinos. Is Lesedi a boy or a girl?”
Karen: “Lesedi’s a girl rhino!”
Emily: “We learnt there are five species of rhino. What kind of rhino is Lesedi?”
Karen: “Lesedi is a white rhino.”
Lilly: “How old is Lesedi?”
Karen: “She’s quite young. She will turn 3 in December 2015.”
Brianna: “What inspired you to start the project?”
Karen: “A trip to the Krueger National Park in 2012. There I took a picture of 5 beautiful rhinos at a water hole. When I went home, I read about rhino poaching and I realised the odds were not good for these rhinos. This is when I decided to do something about it.”
Oriana: “How long did it take you to set up the whole project?”
Karen: “I went to the Krueger National Park in October 2012, and the project was launched in December 2012. So it was started very quickly, we only needed time to make the rhinos. One of our parents sewed the five rhinos, and the children at the school named them.”
Will: “How many schools have your rhinos been to?”
Karen: “So far the rhinos have visited about 100 schools worldwide!”
Megan: “What have been the achievements of the project so far?”
Karen: “The topic is very often on the news in South Africa, because it is such an issue. The project has received a number of awards, I went and presented at a conference in the USA last year, and I have also been to Dubai to another conference this year. We have been interviewed on the radio and articles have been published in different newspapers. All of this has been wonderful as it helps raise awareness about the problem of rhino poaching.”
Duncan: “We have been reading about strategies to protect the rhinos, for example we read about dehorning. Which strategy do you think is the most effective?”
Karen: “It is very difficult to protect rhinos in the Krueger National Park, as it is a huge park. It is as large as the country Israel. It is very difficult to get into the park due to the vegetation. There are many armed patrols that guard the Krueger National Park, but despite this, rhinos are still being poached. Dehorning has not been very successful as we find that rhinos are still being killed for their horns, even if they only have a stump remaining after they have been dehorned. Some people have also tried infusing the horn with poison to deter people from making medicine out of the horn but this hasn’t been successful either.”
Ethan: “How many rhinos are there in zoos worldwide?”
Karen: “Actually, I don’t know!”
Zac: “How many rhinos are there left in the world?”
Karen: “There are 20,000 white rhinos left in Africa, 80% of them in South Africa. There are 4,500 black rhinos left in Africa and again 80% of them in South Africa. There are 3 other species, you may like to research how many of them are left”.
Lily Beth: “Was there ever a rhino species that got extinct? (i.e. a 6th species)”
Karen: “Yes, there was! There was a species of rhinos from Russia. They were furry rhinos. They were called the woolly rhinos. They were extinct thousands of years ago.”
Kelly: “How much food does a rhino eat in a day?”
Karen: “I am not sure, but it is a lot!”
Alex: “If the rhino’s main food disappeared, what would they eat?”
Karen: “All life on Earth belongs to a chain, every animal and plant plays a part in the balance of nature. If rhinos’ food was to disappear, rhinos would disappear, and there would be consequences for other animals and plants.”
We were fortunate to have this time with Karen. The children are very enthused about the project and we have thought of many ideas we are going to implement in order to raise awareness about endangered rhinos in our community. What I love most about this is seeing the children come up with ideas that integrate the new tools they’ve been learning about this year.
Watch this space!