Saturday, June 20, 2009


Dear Family and Friends,

Behind the scenes, out of the spotlight and against the most overwhelming odds, some amazing things have been going on in Zimbabwe these last nine years. This week we saw proof of one in the form of a documentary about a black rhino called Tatenda. Hand reared from a baby, Tatenda was orphaned when he was just a few weeks old. His mother, together with another heavily pregnant female and a male rhino were all shot and killed one night in November 2007 on a game farm outside Marondera. The slaughter was for a small handful of horn supposed to have medicinal properties.

The tragedy came after years of breeding and re-introducing black rhino to the wild. Tatenda survived the massacre, was nurtured and protected by John and Judy Travers and their family and staff and his early life is immortalized in this enchanting Animal Planet film: "There's a rhino in my house. " Perhaps hand rearing one animal doesn't sound like such a spectacular event, these sorts of things happen all the time in Africa, but the fact that an endangered orphaned black rhino could be saved here, at this time in our history, is astounding. Farms ravaged by ongoing land seizures, rampant unchecked poaching, shops without food, filling stations without fuel. Everything involved in keeping Tatenda alive was surely a major undertaking. Game cubes, milk powder, even rubber teats had to be sourced and imported from other countries. This film isn't just about a baby rhino, it's about dedication, devotion and a vision for the future.

Throughout the film there is no bitterness, blame or anger but only compassion and a determination to save a species for the next generation. Enchanting images of the children from Numwa School coming to a Rhino's birthday party, squirming and giggling as they stroke his hard grey skin are the picture of the real Zimbabwe that we all love so much There are many stories within this story; many people who helped, donated and were involved behind the scenes. One who must be mentioned is Johnny Rodrigues and his family and their ZCTF (Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force). Always on the move, fetching and delivering, monitoring and recording, this family are determined to expose what's been going on this last decade and to save Zimbabwe's wildlife.

Like many of Zimbabwe's little known heroes, their own life has been on hold while they've sacrificed all for love of their country and its flora and fauna. As desperate as the plight of the people of Zimbabwe is right now, the state of the environment and the animals is even more precarious. For Tatenda and everyone involved in saving him, we are thankful.

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.



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