Rhino poaching has become a serious problem in South African game reserves during 2010, with 227 rhinos butchered this year. Now, South African crime-prevention organisation Eblockwatch hopes that the crusade against rhino poaching will have a famous new ambassador – rapper 50 Cent.
You might be wondering why platinum-selling performer 50 Cent would make such an ideal addition to South Africa’s anti-poaching campaigns. The answer lies with Phila, a black rhino who has survived 2 attacks by poachers this year – being shot a total of 9 times. The 5-year-old rhino cow (pictured above) survived 2 bullet wounds in July, and following this Phila’s owner had her humanely de-horned to deter poachers. Rhino poaching knows no limits when it comes to greed and cruelty however, and her attackers returned later this year, shooting her 7 times in an attempt to get to the stump of her horn, which could still have fetched a profit on the black market.
After her second miraculous survival, Phila was taken to the Johannesburg Zoo, where she will be safe from further rhino poaching attempts. She has made a steady recovery despite partial hearing loss in one ear, and strict security measures have been put in place to ensure her protection from rhino poaching syndicates.
50 Cent, the 35-year-old rap artist also known as Curtis Jackson, is just as famed for surviving 9 bullet wounds as he is for chart-topping hits like In da Club. The rapper was shot 9 times at close range in 2000, and recovered within 5 months. Eblockwatch has requested that 50 Cent become “godfather” to fellow survivor Phila, and help to raise worldwide awareness about the dramatic rise in rhino poaching statistics in South Africa.
There has been no response yet from 50 Cent or his publicist, but the South African conservation community is hoping the rapper will consider using his fame to help promote the current efforts to put a stop to rhino poaching. If 50 Cent agrees to “adopt” Phila, rumour has it she will be re-named “One Pound” in the rapper’s honour.
Phila is one of the fortunate few to survive rhino poaching attacks; the number of rhinos killed this year is truly tragic, and every effort is being made to apprehend and prosecute poachers.