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Bad Hair Selfies Put Africa's Rhino Poaching Crisis In the Spotlight


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In 2014 there have been plenty of reasons to take on challenges, with social media proving itself as a force for good. 

Acacia Africa’s #SaveInongwe campaign is no different, the safari specialist’s initiative focused on saving Africa’s endangered rhinos - the challenge is to upload your bad hair day selfie to Facebook or Twitter and nominate or donate to your wildlife charity of choice. 

A play on keratin, rhino horn is comprised of the same substance found in our own hair and nails, but surprisingly enough, on the black market its worth more than gold.  Thought to cure cancer in some Asian countries, this mythical medication is now on track to cause a wildlife tragedy of disastrous proportions: rhinos in the wild are facing extinction by 2026. 

The statistics are alarming. Since 1st January, 1,030 rhinos have been killed by poachers in South Africa, while in Namibia 22 rhinos have met the same deadly fate.  Kenya has also bore the brunt of the crisis, with the country reporting what is possibly the worst incident in 25 years back in July. With South Africa home to more than 80% of Africa’s rhinos, the outlook is bleak. 

Arno Delport, Sales & Marketing Manager at Acacia Africa, says: “There’s never been a better time to generate awareness and encourage donations, and when you consider the vast distances covered by rangers in Africa, the Kruger National Park comparable with the size of Wales, conservation is costly.  We’re also fighting against highly sophisticated syndicates; wildlife crime (is) the fourth largest illegal activity in the world after drug trafficking, counterfeiting & human trafficking.

“In light of the facts it’s hard to imagine what a selfie will acheive, but its important to not to lose sight of the positive changes being made on the ground and to be aware that donations really do make a difference.”

The #SaveInongwe hashtag highlights one of Africa’s success stories, the initiative named after a white rhino residing in Zambia’s Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park. Saved from a snare by rangers earlier this year, Inongwe, who is currently pregnant with her second calf (a significant event as rhinos only give birth every two to four years) is originally from South Africa, and since her arrival in 2007, no rhinos have been poached - the mammals are under 24-hour armed guard.

There is also more good news on the horizon. Namibia is just months away from having a specialist military unit that will combat poachers; Kenya has started using high-tech surveillance equipment to track poaching gangs, and South Africa is creating a stronghold within the Kruger to protect its rhino population.

The #SaveInongwe campaign has even been out on the road, the winner of Acacia Africa's Bad Hair Party enjoying a walking safari in Zambia; the evening including a rhino pub quiz based on Save the Rhino International’s current projects - the tour operator one of the organisation’s corporate sponsors. 

“Now open to Facebook and Twitter users the Bad Hair Day Challenge is allowing us to spread the message to a much wider audience,”  says Delport. “And with technology viewed as an important tool in the war on poaching conservation is expensive, but ultimately more effective in helping rangers to save Africa’s rhinos.”

To participate in the Bad Hair Day Challenge:

  1. Upload your Bad Hair Day selfie to Facebook or twitter
  2. Add the hastag #SaveInongwe
  3. Nominate or donate to Save the Rhino International or your favourite charity
Acacia Africa offers a 5% discount to all ISIC holders and students travelling through Livingstone in 2015 will have the opportunity to visit Inongwe on an optional walking safari. Acacia Africa is also running an early booking promotion on selected camping and accommodated overland tours with savings of up to £455pp on bookings made before 31st December.

For further information please contact Acacia Africa on 020 7706 4700;  The tour operator tweets from @AcaciaAfrica

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