In the summer of 2013, the British channel, ITV broadcasted a documentary titled Poaching Wars with Tom Hardy. The documentary was broken into two parts which aired a week apart from each other. Tom Hardy is known for playing the bad guy type of roles such as Bane and Bronson. However, in his personal life he’s a very gentle and loving person. After dealing with addictions Hardy gained a new view on life and refocused his purpose to helping others in need. He has a passion for charities especially with animals. In this documentary, the audience is given different perspectives as an illegal hunter, a hunter for survival, a conservationist and a person looking from the outside.
The documentary starts in the sub-Saharan part of African. In South African, about 80% of the world’s remaining rhinos live here. In the year 2012 over 600 rhinos were shot and killed for their beautiful horns. At least two rhino per day are being killed, which leads researchers to believe that in ten years’ time these animals will be extinct.
Although, they may not seem that attractive, the rhino’s horns are worth more per kilo gram than gold itself. In a country that is constantly struggling with poverty, that is a high price to have on your head. The types of weapon used to kill these animals were the ones created to fight against the threat of humans. The military weapons and skill are now being used to kill innocent animals. It’s not just the people of these countries that are killing their animals, but the rich foreigners as well. The rhino is considered game, in the most horrible life-costing way. Poachers have gone as far was poisoning the local water supply so that the animals that drink it, hopefully those with horns, will die. In return they are not only killing their desired game but also contaminating water for other humans.
For others, the death of such beautiful animals is not something one does for bragging rights or for wealth. For some it is their only way to survive. If you think about the history of South Africa, the elephant in the room (no pun intended) is that South Africa has been turned into a white man’s playing field. In the words of a villager, “You are often seen as Robin Hood, stealing from the rich white man and giving back to the poor fathers of the land.” In these cases it’s not greed that drives a person, but a way to provide for your village. One man, Tumi Morema, has been threatened by other poachers explained how difficult life can be. He lives and provides for the village he was born and brought up in. He has not only his family to care for but his one year old daughter. He often has to leave for days or even months to get poachers of his tail, in fear they may harm his loved ones. One poacher addressed him and said, “If you do or say anything stupid I will kill you… and your sisters and everyone on your street.” Words like this cannot escape a person but can echo, leaving a horrid thought in the back of their mind, every waking moment and every nightmare.
Not everyone is after the life of rhinos, some are trying to preserve what is still here and others are trying to repopulate the dying animals. Miles Lappermen runs a rhino sanctuary. In 2012, hunters broke into his sanctuary and killed eight of the twenty two rhinos. He feels that these animals are part of his family because they've been with him for over twenty years and grew alongside his family. Recently one of his favorite rhino, Long Horn, was shot by poachers and died with out reason with its horn still attached. Since then, he’s had to move them to a secret location, in fear the slaughter will continue to another member of the family with or without a horn.
Vincent Barkas is an anti-poaching guru. He has about 300 men armed with military grade weapons and skill to assist in the well-being of rhinos. Barkas feels that the 300 men are not enough and also fears the double edged sword he is teaching these young men. He does not work for or with the government. He is a white man giving nineteen and twenty three year olds weapons made to kill.
Another man named John believes he can save the rhino by de-horning them. Since the horn grows back, the animals don’t seem to mind and they aren't killed because of their horn, it seems like a great idea. However he may feel this strongly about this subject because he owns over 850 rhino and plans to breed over 200 a year if the poachers will allow him.
Every day there is a struggle and a war on defenseless animals. A gesture, no matter how small you may think it to be, can lead to a much bigger effect. Due to the possibility of violence, Hardy’s original charity had to be closed. However, you can still lend a helping hand by spreading the word.