Book review: Rhino War

Rhino War

Major General Johan Jooste with Tony Park

Pan Macmillan

Review: Carmen Jacobs

Before reading Rhino War I was generally aware of the battle (which now seems to be intensifying) to stop rhino poaching in South Africa and its neighbouring countries.

I must however, admit that even though I was aware of the issue, it wasn’t one that interested me or made me feel a strong sense of activism.

Regretfully, the book did not change this for me. It did however thoroughly educate me on the very real and often, violent battle behind the scenes to curb rhino poaching.

The author has put enormous effort into giving readers a detailed outline of the forces united in the fight against poaching.

There are detailed summaries of anti-poaching strategies, (past and present), input on the strategies implemented in improved militarised operations, all the government and non-government units involved in the fight, and the list of all the advanced technologies (effective and ineffective) being implemented and how it’s been sourced.

The book also provided an insider’s account on the men and women fighting off these poachers, which gave me a newfound sense of respect and appreciation for the brave rangers and officers who often in addition to dealing with poachers, also need to battle scorching and highly volatile conditions in the Kruger National Park and beyond its borders.

Overall, I enjoyed the narration by MG Jooste and found it to be surprisingly conversational and easily understood, not as riddled with coded military or combat jargon, as I expected.

Although, as the book progressed, at some point I started to feel overwhelmed by all the technical terms used to describe the modern technology and advanced equipment used in anti-poaching. In hindsight, though, those interested in this field would probably find this inclusion enlightening.

Overall, the book was a powerful vehicle in lifting the veil on the ongoing fight against rhino poaching. I did find the story of one man’s commendable mission to fight rhino poaching, to be a good read. I was inspired by his bold and relentless approach and can-do attitude regardless of opposing forces.

World Rhino Day was commemorated on Thursday September 22, but sadly current statistics released show an increase in rhinos lost through poaching.

This left me with a worrying question. If all these advanced, almost war-like tactics, increased prosecution rates, lengthier jail sentences and paramilitary efforts are not enough in completely deterring poachers, what will be?