“A South African expatriate’s desire to protect rhinoceroses from poachers is driving an unusual plan to breed the giant animals down under. The plan is to airlift 80 white rhinos to Australia over the next four years, with the first batch of 20 to be brought over by the end of 2016. I have a deep passion for rhinos, the 67-year-old tells me. The rhino is the closest thing you will ever see to the dinosaur. They’re incredible animals.” J. Donnison, BBC, Sydney
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
“Now Mr. Dearlove wants to bring rhinos on the same long journey to Australia that he made three decades ago. Some would say it’s far-fetched, just the idea of another dumb South African, he admits with a smile. But with rhinos we’re close to a tipping point right now. We need to start thinking laterally.
Mr. Dearlove’s love of the rhinoceros can be traced to his childhood. He was born and raised in the north-east of South Africa, close to the border with Mozambique…It’s estimated that poachers killed about 1,300 rhinos for their horns last year in Africa.The reason is that rhino horn is literally worth more than its weight in gold.
It sells for about US$60,000 (£41,000) a kilo, sometimes more, with much of it ending up in China and Vietnam where it’s believed – most would say wrongly – to have medicinal properties. Mr. Dearlove says there have been numerous attempts to slow down the poaching trade. They’ve tried dehorning the rhinos but it didn’t work. The poachers would still shoot the animals just to dig out a couple of inches of the stump of the horn from their skulls.
They need to be in a secure environment where they can breed. Mr. Dearlove is keeping the exact location close to his chest for now, but says his dream is to one day to have a smaller version of the Kruger National Park somewhere in Australia.
The target is to increase the size of the herd from 80 rhinos to about 130 before eventually repatriating them to Africa, if and when the poaching situation improves.
Special cargo planes will need to be used for the 11,000km journey from Johannesburg to Sydney, at an estimated cost of about US$60,000 per rhino. But Mr. Dearlove believes it’s worth it.
What price do you put on saving a species from extinction?”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Have students examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Some call this an audacious plan.
- The goal is to protect rhinoceroses from poachers.
- Dearlove is A South African expatriate.
- Rhinos are incredible animals.
- They take the pristine nature of the country very seriously.
- There was some concern about the animals potentially bringing in disease.
- The governments have been supportive.
- He acknowledges the project has been bureaucratically challenging.
- Australia has strict quarantine controls.
- Dearlove is saving a species from extinction.
Reading Comprehension: Word -Recognition
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
Conservationists have also tried___ dye into the___ to ___them, but with ___success.
The Australian ___Project is about spreading the risk,” Mr Dearlove says.The___ is to airlift ___white rhinos to ___over the next four years, with the first___of 20 to be brought over by the ___of 2016.
Word List: end, Rhino, devalue, injecting, Australia, horns, batch, limited, plan,80,
Grammar Focus: Prepositions
Directions: The following sentences are from the news article. For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.
Prepositions: in, for, of, with, by, on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over, through, from, during, up, off,
Snapping___his ankles___ his home___ suburban Sydney is a somewhat yappy little terrier.
Mr Dearlove wants___ bring rhinos___ the same long journey___ Australia.
With such a high rate___ poaching, it’s going___ take time___catch up, says Mr Dearlove.
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following topics.
- “The target is to increase the size of the herd from 80 rhinos to about 130 before eventually repatriating them to Africa, if and when the poaching situation improves. But rhinos take time to breed.They have a gestation period of about 16 months and only have one calf at a time.Usually they will wait three to four years before having more offspring.”
- “Australia’s main concern is bio-security. They take the pristine nature of the country very seriously, he says, referring to Australia’s notoriously strict quarantine controls. Initially there was some concern about the animals potentially bringing in foot-and-mouth disease, but those fears have now been addressed.”
- “Nowhere is totally safe. But I do think Australia is safer than pretty much anywhere else…Border security is a major focus for both state and federal governments. There is no poaching in Australia today, thank God, and there is no comparable poverty. I really believe that if one rhino got poached in this country all hell would break lose. The Australians would just find it unacceptable.”
Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.