Billy Bush is best known as an entertainment personality who reports on pop culture and celebrities on the entertainment news show "Access Hollywood." Bush, who admits to being afraid of bugs, stretches himself by joining the front line of rhino conservation in the jungle in Nepal with World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
“I’m not a guy who goes on nature hikes. I hate bugs and, frankly, I’m a little scared of the dark. But the opportunity to do something real makes the risk, the fear of the unknown, all worth it.”
— Billy Bush
In Chasing Rhinos with Billy Bush, he takes time off from his day job (red carpet meltdowns! hookups! trendspotting!) to fight the illegal poaching of greater one-horned rhinos. He’ll accompany poaching patrols; fly an unmanned aerial vehicle; and participate in a race-against-time effort to catch, collar and release a wild adult rhino. )
Greater one-horned rhinos are an endangered species, but they are being poached, even within the borders of protected national parks guarded by armed rangers. There are just over 500 of these 12-foot-long, 3-ton living tanks surviving in Nepal to this day, and their numbers are threatened due to poachers who are willing to profit at the rhinos’ expense. A single rhino horn can fetch more than $30,000 on the black market, which is reason enough for poachers to slaughter this rare, beautiful and powerful species.
“We have an opportunity to do something really remarkable, and that is to raise some awareness. Most people I told about this mission said, ‘there’s rhinos in Nepal?’” said Bush.
WWF, the Chitwan National Park Rangers and the Nepali government have joined forces to combat illegal poaching and protect greater one-horned rhinos from extinction. Bush may be an unlikely addition, but he has the ability to spread media awareness of the dangers facing the rhinos to millions of people around the world. Bush risks life and limb in a land where nature poses countless dangers and armed poachers lurk in the trees, waiting for their opportunity to trap and kill a rhino.
Bush is followed on his journey with WWF, which begins in bustling Kathmandu, where he investigates the rhino’s role in Nepali society as a sacred, revered creature. He travels to Chitwan National Park, the last major rhino holdout in Nepal. The rhinos have been systematically poached to the verge of annihilation everywhere else in the country. While participating in a river patrol around the perimeter of the park, Bush comes close to a poacher encampment. During the night patrol, unseen terrors of both animal and human varieties, lurk in the darkness.
Bush is guided by a young Nepali scientist, WWF’s Sabita Malla, who. introduces Bush to the technology and methods used in the fight against poachers. Unmanned aerial drones give the anti-poaching squads “eyes in the sky” and a leg up against poaching activity. Malla shows Bush a sobering sight, millions of dollars’ worth of animal hides, bones and limbs that are stored after being seized from poachers. Bush will come face to face with casualties of the illegal trade of endangered wildlife.
Finally, Bush joins a team of soldiers, scientists and rangers mounted on elephants who will surround a rhino, tranquilize him and collar him while unconscious. It’s a high-octane undertaking, with only 15 minutes to complete their job before the rhino wakes up, angry and confused. And despite his abundant charisma, Billy Bush is no match for a massive creature that can run faster than 30 miles per hour!
Chasing Rhinos with Billy Bush is produced for Nat Geo WILD by Market Road Films. For Market Road Films, executive producer is Tony Gerber. For Nat Geo WILD, executive producers are National Geographic Channels President Howard T. Owens and SVP of Program Development and Production Janet Han Vissering. In addition to appearing in the special, Billy Bush also serves as executive producer.