A Message from our Founder:
Why the Rhino
What motivates the poaching? The simple answer is myth, greed, and spiritual void! Rhino horn is valued on the black market reportedly for as much as USD $90,000 per kilo. It is used in "Traditional Chinese Medicine" to cure everything from fever to cancer when in fact it has no medicinal value. Rhino horn is also used for achieving social status in emerging eastern societies. An average poached rhino will produce four kilo's of horn material making it a lucrative target. Ironically, laboratories have confirmed rhino horn is essentially the same organic material as hair and fingernails - keratin! The rhino is being driven into extinction over a mythical healing power and social greed! The Javan and Sumatran Rhino are now considered 'extinct in the wild' leaving only the Indian, African Black, and African White Rhinoceros to represent this magnificent species. More bad news, per the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), the Indian and African Black Rhino are critically endangered and placed on the International Union Conservation Nature 'red list'. The African White Rhino is on the threatened list.
Please review 'Our Work' page to learn how you can help us save the magnificent prehistoric mega herbivore from extinction. If you would like more information about any of our projects & partnerships please send us an email or click on the provided links. The projects are all proudly South African initiatives co-created by Transfrontier Africa and Rhino Mercy. Rhino Mercy provides resources for the various projects and access for individuals to engage them in a variety of ways.
I hope this website encourages you to become passionate about the fight to save the rhinoceros, one of the planets most distinguished dinosaurs! I further hope that you will join us in doing something that really matters because extinction is forever.
Tom L. Tochterman, Ph.D.
About the Founder
Tom is the founder of Rhino Mercy, a US 501c3 non-profit organization established in 2012. Between 2009 and 2012 he traveled frequently to South Africa as a result of that first ‘ah ha’ moment during a wild animal encounter (a pride of lions on a zebra kill). In his determination to better understand the power of such experiences on human behavior, Tom embarked on a five-year doctoral program. Along the doctoral journey Tom learned about the growing threat of poaching and wildlife crime in general across the African Savannah landscape. He decided to focus time, treasure, and talent toward developing a new approach to anti-poaching that included more than the classical response of ‘guys with guns’. Tom formed a strategic alliance with local stakeholders on the western boundary of the Kruger National Park, South Africa with a mission to defend a small patch of Africa against poaching. With his partner Craig Spencer, Director of Transfrontier Africa, they co-authored the Balule Rhino Conservation Plan. The plan has three key tenets that include physical security (boots on the ground), environmental research, and community beneficiation. The underlying thesis that made the plan unique was a social strategy to raise a sense of ‘patriotism’ within the communities surrounding the Kruger National Park regarding their natural resources. Since the implementation of the Balule Rhino Conservation Plan, poaching has decreased 86% within the Balule Nature Reserve.
Tom received his Ph.D. in Management from Walden University with a specialization in Leadership and Organizational Change. His research interest is in the discipline of environmental leadership and ecological psychology. In 2016 Dr. Tochterman presented his research regarding the influence of cognitive dissonance on consumption of natural resources and ecosystem degradation at the annual symposium of the Southern Africa Wildlife Management Association in Tzaneen South Africa.
Tom is further involved in African communities through his membership in Rotary International. He is currently engaged in efforts to help local Rotary clubs in South Africa and Kenya provide relief to underserved and impoverished communities. Tom has been a member of Rotary since 1990 and is currently working on a project to bring safe drinking water, toilets, and computers to a school community of approximately 600 students between the ages of six and 12 in Narok Kenya. Tom is also board Chair and Director of Human/Wildlife Conflict for the Rotarian Action Group Endangered Species and has presented his efforts to save rhino’s and other endangered species at the Rotary International Conferences in Atlanta, USA (2017) and in Toronto, Canada (2018).