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A proposed mine in South Africa poses serious risks to rhinos. It would not only give poachers easier access to the animals, but the mine’s toxic byproducts would threaten their health.
The Hluhluwe-Imfolozi park in KwaZulu-Natal became the southern white rhinos’ last refuge after it was hunted to near extinction in the 1890s. Now the high demand for rhino horns - fueled by Vietnamese and Chinese markets - has led to huge incentives to poach and a dramatic increase in rhino killings - over 1,000 last year alone.
The proposed mine, to be located just 40 meters from the boundary of this protected wilderness, would turn its pristine rolling savannah into a wasteland of dumps. Relied on for generations by the nearby Zulu community for grazing cattle, the landscape would be pock-marked with black cavities. Mines a bit further away have already polluted their air and water, and the toxic water is killing their cattle.
There is little doubt that if this mine goes forward, it will destroy this wilderness and put the rhino once again on the brink of extinction. Don’t let Ibutho Coal build this mine in South Africa!
We, the undersigned, are opposed to South Africa allowing a mine so close to this rhino and other animal sanctuary in KwaZulu-Natal.
With 2014 being the deadliest year for rhinos on record, the last thing this 40-million-year-old species needs is a mine near the world’s greatest rhino sanctuary to further threaten its existence.
There is no doubt the presence of the mine, alone, even without the environmental threats that come with it, will end up as a magnet for poachers. With jobs drawing in people from surrounding areas, more people will have access to these highly-prized animals, and it’s already been established that crime increases around mines.
Also already established is that mines are polluting this once pristine wilderness. Dust is blowing over to native communities, causing asthma among their inhabitants, and it’s polluting the water and killing the animals they rely on for sustenance. There’s also a threat of polluting the rivers feeding the “Unesco world heritage-listed Isimangaliso wetlands.” according to a campaign to stop the mine on Avaaz.
Another risk posed to all the inhabitants of this area are the blasting effects. Blasting from mines already in operation have stopped the breeding of crocodiles. Since elephants “hear” through their feet, the vibrations will most likely affect them as well. And it’s not yet known what effect the blasts might have on the rhinos.
According to the Guardian, Ibutho Coal has already been accused of failing to notify and consult with local tribal authorities about its proposed mine. If it has not been forthcoming at this early stage, how can it be relied upon when the worst damage is done?
We request that the South African Government stop this mine from being built so near this protected wildlife sanctuary. The Rhinos face more than enough threat to their existence as is.
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