Although we are living in the 21st century, the bloody and horrifying “work” of brutal poachers is leaving its traces in South African game reserves and recent estimates have shown that by 2015 all rhinos will be wiped out of their natural habitat if people do not start reacting on the increasing number of criminal and hideous poaching acts.
The latest case from the 2nd of March 2012 concerns two rhinos, Themba and Thandiswa, who were left to death with their de-horned bodies in the Eastern Cape Kariega Game Reserve.
Luckily, the two of them were found still alive by veterinarian Dr William Folds who fights for their live since then and sets an example: since the two rhinos have been found, the eager veterinarian uses facebook as a platform to inform and educate others about the misery and struggle of the rhinos and to update a large community about the treatment and progress of their health.
Within a short time, the facebook page has been able to increase its fans from 1000 to 3000 followers with the majority of supporters living in SA, but also international users are following the story and contributing to the “Help Save our Rhino Project” which was initiated as a result of the outpouring sympathy of the community. According to the online marketing manager of Kariega, Lisa Mills, “The suffering of these animals has been made very public and personal. It makes sense that people will want to donate directly to the care of Thandi and Themba.”
But not only the success on facebook kicked in as a surprise. The page analytics as well as the viral reach increased immensely and people started talking about the case and felt touched by the destiny of the two harmed rhinos. Many donations from organisations and private people could have been raised and they currently reach the halfway mark of the estimated healthcare costs which amount to approximately R250,000.
For people who are interested in a more detailed overview on the rhinos, the Kariega blog provides comprehensive texts and insights in the situation and regular video footage updates are made available on youtube for those who prefer moving pictures. The video “United We Stand” (see below) created by the Kariega game rangers has also been widely shared across the network and reached more than 10,000 views within a short period of time.
This case shows that social media cannot only be used for promoting your own business but also raising sympathy and awareness for certain situations and causes. With the ability to reach a huge number of followers and interested supporters, social networks can assist in creating global awareness campaigns and be a powerful medium for those cases that are usually lost in the information overload of the daily news.
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