Lauren Melella, Global Animal
Along with the recent announcement that Animal Planet was renewing the sixth season of the hit program ”Whale Wars,” was the revealing of another conservation-themed reality mini-series titled “Battleground: Rhino Wars.”
The program follows the work of a group of former-military commandos fighting against rhinoceros poaching in South Africa. Marjorie Kaplan, the president and general manager of Animal Planet, states “Battleground: Rhino Wars is the next evolution in Animal Planet’s muscular conservation strand.”
Kaplan goes on to say that, “The men and women protecting rhinos on the ground in South Africa are outgunned and outmanned. This is not an issue of rhinos being dangerous or competing for food or other resources. This is purely greed and profit. There is absolutely no justification for these creatures to be dying, and the people risking their lives to protect them are heroes.”
The issue surrounding the series is the sad fact that black market rhinoceros horns can fetch up to half a million dollars and that many (especially in Asia) consider it to be an almost-magical elixir that can cure everything. The result is that huge numbers of rhinos have been killed, bringing populations into danger of extinction. According to a report in the UK Telegraph, from 2008 until mid 2011, 776 rhinos were killed in South Africa, where poachers are using GPS, helicopters and semi-automatic weapons.
The show centers around former Navy Seal and Team Leader Craig “Saw” Sawyer, medic and ex-Green Beret “Oz,” and the South African Security Manager of Game Reserves United, “Dap” Maritz. Some television critics have been able to catch a glimpse of the graphic content we can expect from “Rhino Wars, and have also claimed that while the men are intimidating enough on screen, they were positively terrifying in their passion and drive in person. In other words, you seriously do not want to get caught poaching by these guys.
Aside from the show’s pro-animal based center, dead and mangled animals are likely to be a regular feature as the show tries to get its point across. On the other hand, don’t expect to see a bunch of bullet-ridden poachers. As one of the commando’s puts it, “We’re not out there to kill people. We’re not out there to hunt people down.” They are, however, out there there to stop a rather senseless slaughter of animals.
Animal Planet’s “Rhino Wars” is set to premiere on March 7 at 9PM ET. Will you be watching?