Skip to main content

This week centered mainly around standardizing our data for the biological reserves database that we’ve been working on since Week 1. And since last week, we’ve made a lot of progress. Most of our assessment categories have been organized, graphs have been prepared, and quantitative analysis is well under way. We are several steps closer to completing our final written report, which will hopefully aid the Huilo Huilo Foundation in pursuing their mission.

I feel like this week’s work closely relates to the CNN article “Why white rhino numbers increased 34,000%” (link: Even the title alone touches on 3 topics that I’ve been researching this week: poaching, rhinoceros, and statistics. And after a week of compiling information and numbers about African game reserves, the “big 5” hunting animals, and anti-poaching efforts throughout Africa, it felt nice to finally sit down and read an article about the usefulness and positive effects of all these programs.

This article truly resonated with me by helping me understand the global scale of fauna conservation efforts, which also makes me understand the value of my work beyond our Chilean partner community. Seeing the rapidly growing rhinoceros population in South Africa showed me that all these years of anti-poaching measures have yielded effective, tangible results. All the things I had researched had real value, and they were making a difference. In turn, my research and statistical contribution to our written report would help Huilo Huilo improve their conservation, community engagement, and education programs. I soon began to realize that the thing I had been researching and the report I was putting together were both meaningful contributions in their own right, helping to improve the way nature reserves operate and care for their animals. The CNN article was the final key I needed to make this connection between my work and its place in the larger global scale.

As someone who is performing research on behalf of a biological reserve located in Chile, my perspective on African poaching is different than that of those who are physically involved in the day-to-day anti-poaching operations. However, I feel like this article does a good job of addressing multiple perspectives on the topic of rhinoceros conservation. On one hand, we hear direct testimonials from the park manager himself, and on the other, we hear from a project manager of their non-profit subsidiary (which pertains more specifically to my research on the financial aspects of nature reserves). These alternate perspectives allow any reader, unknowledgeable or well-informed, to learn about the story behind rhinos, poaching, and protection programs.

Nonetheless, one essential perspective is missing in the article: that of local communities who have experienced the changes in rhino populations as a result of these programs. This raises a question in my mind that I’ve asked myself before: “How does the local population feel about the work that these biological reserves and foundations are doing?” I wonder if they are aware of the conservation work done by these foundations and view them as benefits, just like the residents of Neltume feel about the work done by Huilo Huilo. I wonder if the residents and the foundations are on the same page. I’d be curious to hear the locals’ stories about living among rhinos, and how hearing about their resurgence has affected their lives.