In response to National Geographic.

In response to Bryan Christy’s article – Special Investigation: Inside the Deadly Rhino Horn Trade (This story appears in the October 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine),

I am very disappointed that a publication with the reputation of National Geographic has published such an irresponsible and scurrilous article at a time when realistic and sustainable options for rhino conservation should be receiving global attention. My name is Albina Hume. I am an author, a private rhino guardian and John Hume’s wife, and understandably I was appalled by the first line of the article “Here’s how a pair of South Africans could undermine the international efforts to protect the vulnerable animals.” Character assassination by innuendo is the realm of the gutter press which thrives on unsubstantiated allegations and distortions, and can be extremely harmful to the innocent subjects involved.

How can Bryan Christy even begin to consider linking Dawie Groenewald, the world’s most wanted man when it comes to rhino horn trafficking, with John Hume, who has built up a deserved reputation for his dedication to successfully breeding rhinos for future generations and who is currently protecting 1409 rhinos? John did indeed buy some rhinos from Groenewald, and for this he should be praised, not castigated. Furthermore, they do not know each other very well. By buying these animals, John succeeded in keeping them alive and spared them the fate they would have suffered had Groenewald kept them.

These rescued rhinos are now the true ambassadors of the plight for their species which John bravely pioneered, and have become an integral part of the world’s most successful rhino breeding program. At a time when poaching of rhinos has reached unprecedented levels in southern African countries, John’s commitment has resulted in 955 rhinos being bred on his property, a contribution to the future of the species that has no equal.

He is indeed a firm advocate of opening a strictly controlled international trade in legally produced rhino horn which can be harvested on a renewable basis without a single animal being killed. Christy should have made an effort identify and interview the growing number of professional and dedicated conservationists in southern Africa who are now staunch advocates of a legal trade in rhino horn as the only realistic and sustainable option for producing the funds required for field protection.

A ban on trade in rhino products was imposed in good faith by member states of CITES in 1977, to address the explosion of rhino poaching. The ban is clearly not working as rhino losses from horn poachers are still increasing. It has simply driven the trade in horn underground into a very fertile, lucrative black market resulting in custodians paying all the costs of rhino protection and criminals taking 100% of the profits. The illegal trade kills rhinos and the ban on trade makes dead rhinos more valuable than live rhinos. Legal trade would reverse this and make live rhinos more valuable than dead rhinos. The “deadly trade” referred to by Christy is the one conducted by the criminals like Dawie Groenewald – John Hume keeps his rhinos alive in excellent condition.

#nationalgeographic, #tradeinrhinohorn



25th Anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence.


Today I celebrate 25th anniversary of the independence of Ukraine. Happy Anniversary my Ukrainian friends and friends of Ukraine!!! 🌞
Here’s some thoughts that I’ve wrote about such historical event in my memoir Miss Fortune:
“Three months later, my future, as well as that of the country (USSR) was about to change. A referendum on Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union was scheduled for 1 December 1991. My parents had decided to vote yes. Personally, I liked the idea of separation; it meant that I would definitely be able to travel the world. As a citizen of the Soviet Union, you needed special permission to travel across Soviet borders. This wasn’t easy to get, and if you were lucky enough to get permission, your trip would be only in tourist groups under KGB agent supervision. Independence would give freedom of choice to everyone. Five days after Ukraine gained independence, I turned fourteen.”
#memoirMissFortune, #Ukraine, #25thAnniversaryofUkraine,

My response on National Geographic article about rhino’s reality.

Here’s my response to this article on National Geographic:
“Good day. I am Ukrainian and have lived in South Africa for the past 14 years. As a witness to the rhino poaching crisis that has spiraled since the changes in local law were implemented, I cannot remain calm when reading articles that carry a twisted truth. John Hume is my husband and a rhino custodian who has bred more than 900 rhinos. He currently protects over 1300 rhinos using his own funds from his successful property business. He does not receive any income from these rhinos or any donations, yet he continues to save rhinos for future generations.
Bryan Christy’s article for National Geographic: ‘South Africa Just Lifted Its Ban on the Rhino Horn Trade’ is a typical example of how ignorance or deliberate manipulation of actual facts can mislead the general public who trust a serious and credible magazine like National Geographic. I feel that not responding to this behaviour is akin to keeping quiet when you see a robbery but choose not to report it.

From the first lines of the article, Mr Christy writes: “With just three terse sentences, the South African Supreme Court of Appeal has legalized rhino horn trade in South Africa again…The decision opens a door to criminal activity that some say is necessary to save a species – and others say will doom it.”

If I read Mr Christy’s opinion on opening a door to criminal activity as a reader who presumably isn’t aware of the depth of the poaching reality, I would feel an immediate rejection towards this ruling because I am against criminals. Yet, as a first-hand witness to the rhino’s reality and the poaching crisis, I can see clearly how a lack of explanation can fool a naive public and sway opinion into actually supporting criminal activity – a highly counter-productive response. I believe it is essential to be prudent with chronology and factual structure in delivering a story.
Mr Christy is either unaware or has chosen to ignore an important fact: domestic legal trade in rhino horn in South Africa had been in place for more than 40 years until it was suddenly banned in February 2009 without any explanation. It is important to note that up until this point, South Africa did not have a poaching crisis and was losing less than 20 rhinos per year to poachers.
Since the local ban on trade in rhino horn was implemented, South Africa has lost over 5000 rhinos to criminals in a mere 7 years! Again, before domestic legal trade was banned, no more than 200 rhinos were poached in 40 years!
These historical facts prove that criminal activity in rhino horn trade has shadowed our country because legal trade in horn was banned. A huge difference but for the general public, unaware of these facts, it’s so easy to believe the written words of some journalist who, in my opinion, opted to twist the reality.
Here’s my question to Mr Christy: Did banning the legal trade in rhino horn stopthe illegal trade? And if the ban on trade in rhino horn is so good for rhinos, then why are rhinos in South Africa being poached at a rate of 3 per day?
Also, when Mr Christy writes that in South Africa rangers raise rhino like dairy cows, I cannot help but shake my head. Firstly, he doesn’t explain what exactly he means by comparing breeding rhinos to dairy cows. There are various ways of raising dairy cows; rhinos would never survive in some conditions where dairy cows survive and thrive. Second, this shaky comparison could also apply to all wild animals raised in zoos and sanctuaries on any national or private land.
Rhinos in South Africa on private land live and breed in near-natural environments where their safety, health and well-being are the primary concerns of their custodians.They are certainly not as easy to breed as domestic animals because if they were, they would be not as rare as they are and the world would have many more rhino breeders than dairy cow breeders.
Mr Christy also emphasizes the point that “the opening of South Africa’s domestic rhino horn market brings with it an unpleasant reality: Horn will now most certainly be smuggled out of South Africa to Asia.”
Yet he seems to ignore the fact that South Africa is home to 92% of the world’s rhino population and that legal trade would provide a sustainable supply of horn without killing rhinos. The fact that the ban has claimed over 5000 rhino’s lives surely cannot be ignored when reality stares us in the face. It’s time to save the rhino, not the horn. After all, horn grows back and one rhino can produce up to 2 kg of horn per year.
I am very much in agreement with Izak du Toit’s explanation of the CITES ban which is a flawed and outdated law that could closely be compared to an apartheid law. Sometimes people have to transgress the very law they object to in order to show it is ineffective.
Finally, how many more rhinos have to die before journalists like Mr Christy will realise that banning local trade and not legalising an international trade in horn has been absolutely, catastrophically and devastatingly disastrous for rhinos?
If you still can’t or won’t get your head around that, ask yourself this: With rhinos around the world having already run out of time at an alarming rate, surely it’s worth a desperate, final shot to save the ones left here? How sad it would be to have to admit that we failed the rhino because we refused to do anything differently.”


A burning issue.

I am Ukrainian, living in South Africa. I’m a witness to a rhino poaching crisis, while helping my husband to breed rhinos for future generations. I’d like to share my thoughts about the reality which African continent is facing currently:
It is a very sad situation when African people lose their natural heritage due to poaching. It’s even sadder when those who burn stolen natural resources, which belong to Africa, present such action like a stand against poaching in the name of African countries. Such radical and illogical steps have been done by international NGOs who collect millions of dollars on African wildlife crisis; more crisis- more suffering- more donations. It has nothing to do with reducing demand for rhino horn and Ivory because demand does not kill the rhino or elephant, but a method by which the demand is supplied.
Burning Ivory and rhino horn has nothing to do with African countries’ stand. African people have very little say in such actions because they have had their rights taking away by NGOs that dictate wildlife policies in Kenya, for example. The same NGOs are currently trying to highjack South African wildlife policies too.
P.S. Donations won’t save African wildlife, your voice will. When you know better – you CAN do better.


Are We Serious About Saving The Rhino?

Some have asked me today, what will we do with our 1300+ rhinos, which we protect as private individuals, if we know that the rhino wars will continue for at least another 3 years, because today South African government has announced that they will not propose to CITES to legalise the trade in harvested horn where rhino stays alive and horn grows back.
All I can say, such decision will be responsible for many more thousands of rhino deaths around the country, but we are not going to leave our rhinos alone. We have no other option but to win or lose together with the rhinos.