As any of you who follow me will know, my heart and hope lies in conservation, with the plight of the Rhino a key focal point. To date though it feels like all I’ve done is read, research, tweet, blog, spread the word and pray that the Rhino be Saved. This year however has to be the year of action.
Therefore when I learnt from Saving Private Rhino about a Court Hearing in Khayelitscha of Xiong Changsen, who was found in illegal possession of elephant tusks, shark fins and various animal horns – including rhino horn, I decided to attend. Changsen was arrested together with Xing Xieny, who is out on bail, during December.
I joined a motley but hopeful group of Save The Rhino supporters to deliver the message JAIL NOT BAIL.
The group arrived wore Saving Private Rhino t-shirts, banners and hope and we were led to the courthouse by Piper James playing Nkosi Sililele iAfrica. A stark reminder of the importance of protecting South Africa’s wildlife.
Initially gathered in Khayelitscha’s Remembrance Square, we moved to the Courtyard stairs and waited the arrival of the accused’s lawyer. I was overcome with emotion at the idea of a South African defending the accused in this case.
After a couple of hours we were invited into the Court Room where the accused was brought before the Magistrate William October and his lawyer applied for a postponement to the 28 February 2012. It was granted, and for now Xing Xieny stays behind bars. A good thing.
I will be there with my new friends in conservation, and I will be calling for support from anybody in the Cape that has the plight of the Rhino at heart. We were told that our presence there did have an impact, that our voices were heard, and that we do make an impact. The Press was supportive and their reporting invaluable.