In parts of Asia, people pay a higher price for a pound of rhino horn than they would pay for a pound of gold or cocaine. Their irrational demand for a substance no different from human fingernails is fuelling an ideological battle on the ground in South Africa. Many South Africans living near the country’s declining rhino populations face the heart-breaking decision of living in crippling poverty or aiding and abetting the global trade in rhino horn and other illegal wildlife products.
This dilemma is at the heart of a poignant and powerful new film by director Toby Wosskow. Sides of a Horn will explore how two men from the same family find themselves on opposite sides of the poaching crisis - one has chosen the path of a poacher, and the other that of a ranger. One fateful morning, during a magnificent African sunrise, a rhino saunters down to a peaceful watering hole where it is met by the two men – one bent on taking its life and the other bent on saving it.
The film will delve deep into how this battle is tearing communities apart and how it is affecting the majestic rhino, which at current poaching rates is only 10 years away from extinction in the wild. It’s the first film to tell the story of South Africa’s poaching crisis from both sides of the fence.
I’m proud to support Toby’s film and become its Executive Producer. You can watch a behind-the-scenes clip here:
I visited South Africa recently to mark Nelson Mandela’s centenary with The Elders, and then headed up to Ulusaba, Virgin Limited Edition’s private game reserve. It’s such a great privilege being able to watch these majestic animals roam free. But I wonder how much longer anyone will be able to do this. The rhino is one of Africa’s most precious assets: an animal that has hardly changed in 50 million years - a living, breathing time machine. I hope my grandchildren will be able to experience their fierce beauty, not talk about their sad (and wholly preventable) demise.