Wildlife Veterinarian speaks on threatened rhino population

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    William Fowlds spoke in front of a full crowd in the Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom Wednesday night, esplaining the grave danger the rhinoceros population faces in the form of poachers in Africa.

    Fowlds, a wildlife veterinarian from Africa said, poachers kill three rhinoceroses on average per night.

    “The reason why we call this a crisis is because we are trying to protect the last five percent of what we should have. So that tiny little representation there, is literally what we are holding onto for dear life,” said Fowlds.

    He said over 1000 rhinos were killed in 2013, which is more than a 1000 percent increase over the past five years. Rhinoceroses are killed for their horns, which can be sold for upwards of $200,000 in illegal markets.

    Allyson Spafford, a sophomore kinesiology major, said she didn’t know anything about rhinoceroses going into the talk, but that she wanted to learn more.

    Fowlds said that the three main areas of concern for the future of rhinoceroses includes protection, information and intelligence gathering and the local and global legal systems. He said that rhinoceros conservation has good traction globally, but localized corruption hinders the cause.

    A video was shown about the men tasked with protecting the rhinos. In the video, a man said that he would be willing to die for a rhino because they are defenseless against poachers.

    A list of celebrities have also joined in on the cause, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Yao Ming, Jackie Chan, David Beckham and Prince William. Fowlds said that their roles are critical in raising awareness of the issue.

    At the end of the presentation, Fowlds played a video of himself finding a rhino he was attempting to nurse back to health dead in a watering hole. It had drown due to an inability to swim after a poaching incident injured one of its legs.

    He said it was one of the worst days of his life, and began to cry toward the end of the video.

    One member of the audience asked if Fowlds had considered horn removal before poachers got to the rhinoceroses in order to take away their monetary value. Fowlds said that the current procedures are very painful and cause health complications.

    At the end of the talk, Nowell Donavon, TCU’s Provost, presented Fowlds with a piece of local artwork from Sinaca Studios in Fort Worth.