Uma Thurman’s Travels To South Africa To Help Save Rhinos

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The October issue of Town & Country documents the truly inspiring story of actress Uma Thurman’s travels to South Africa to participate in a revolutionary effort to help save a disappearing prehistoric species, the rhinoceros. Rhinos have lived on this earth for millions of years, but wildlife experts estimate they may be gone in just ten —poached to extinction. Approximately 4.5 of the animals are being killed every day. The ‘rhinocide,’ as Thurman calls it, has surged since 2008, when the prestige of rhino horn began climbing rapidly among the rising rich in Vietnam, where it is thought to not only cure cancer but enhance virility, and where it also serves, ground to a powder, as a party drug. An intact, well-shaped horn will fetch between $750,000 and $1 million.

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Working with a team of wildlife experts from Wilderness Safaris, Uma and Town & Country’s Executive Travel Editor, Klara Glowczewska, helped rescue, save and relocate two white rhinos, a mother and calf, to safety from South Africa’s Timbavati Game Reserve to Botswana, where they could be better protected from the threat of poachers. After actively assisting in securing the two rhinos for transport, without any unnecessary stress to the animals, Uma shared a brief moment alone with the animals; crouching next to the mother’s massive head, cradling her. Because of the high value (the transport of these animals was more valuable than a Brinks truck full of gold) the team was alerted to a possible planned hijacking during the mission – however that did not stop Uma who was devoted to the mission, stating “I have lent myself to this. I’m here to help.”

Uma Thurman on what it was like to be so close to a wild creature of that size:
“I was so moved. I was just breathing in the dearness of her.”

Thurman on what the rescue experience is like:
“It’s a spiritual, surreal experience, to have subdued, without stress, such a prehistoric animal. To hear its deep breaths, to smell it, to touch its skin – even a rhino has soft bits. To see how delicate they really are, how vulnerable. There is the obvious excitement of it all, but also a quietness in the midst of all the panic.”

On what she learned from this experience and why she believes in making an effort and how there is hope:
“I think so many of us feel that there is no point – Who are we? What can we do? There are so many dire situations, and it’s all out of our control. And there is sort of truth to that. But what I learned in Africa is that one must make an effort anyway. Because you just don’t know. Until the story is concluded, there is always hope.”

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Her thoughts on the Government’s involvement on these rescues:
“How moving it was to actually see the joy of military men performing a labor of love. It’s something I have never seen. It is sadly not what they are asked to do most of the time elsewhere in the world.”

9 comments

  1. I love Uma Thurman and have not heard about her for a while so loved reading this story. It is a shame about Rhinos and the Black ones are now extinct I think. There just needs to be a retraining from the cultural bondage that now exists in these countries and an opening to other ways to make money for these people. So glad to hear these animals are on the path to safety.

  2. She has truly and is probably still doing something that most of us wish we could do-at least I do. It is a shame that people deem it necessary to kill off other creatures for sport and for the purposes specified above.

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