South Africa: Seeing Conservation Through a Blind Rhino’s Eyes

Munu is one of 256 black rhinos left in the world. He used to be grumpy, but now he helps inspire conservation.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

A blind, formerly cantankerous rhino is at the centre of two innovative plans to revive ecotourism in the Eastern Cape as the industry is being devastated by the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown, travel restrictions and a lack of international tourists.

His name is Munu. He became blind because he liked to fight with other rhinos. He is one of only 256 black rhinos left in the world – and one of the sources of inspiration to save the badly damaged wildlife tourism industry in the Eastern Cape

“Films like My Octopus Teacher were our inspiration. We saw the impact that it had,” said Adrian Gardiner, the founder and chai of the Mantis Group and a pioneer in private ecotourism in the Eastern Cape.

“I think when you look at wildlife tourism and private game reserves in the Eastern Cape, ‘devastated’ is the correct word,” he said. “We all came to 2021 with a positive attitude, but things got worse rather than better,” he added. “The domestic industry was shut down…

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