The Rhino Situation – seeking out the “positives”…

People are naturally very quick to focus on tragic and negative news, however, there is so much positive action taking place, especially for rhinos. It is vital to focus on and share the positivity, for without feeding positivity and faith into the future of our rhinos, a positive result is not possible.

I decided to run a 20 minute internet search for “rhino positive” and was amazed and inspired by what I found. Individuals and communities can and are making a difference.

  • Local companies in South Africa have pledged support through cause-related marketing…
    • Between May and July of 2012, the company BKB encouraged its customers to purchase Freddie Hirsch spices in order to help raise funds for the fight against rhino poaching. For every product purchased, BKB donated R3 to the Wilderness Foundation’s Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative which resulted in a total of R11865 being raised.
    • Greeff Properties pledged to donate a portion of commission on selected property sales to the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative.
    • Kids T-shirt campaign: Keedo clothing for kids, designed and manufactured in South Africa, designed a special “rhino T-shirt” and pledged R10, £1 or $1 for each T-shirt sold. The campaign raised R5980 for the same Initiative.
    • The Shamwari Group has raised R2 million for the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative, by offering guests a discounted rate if guests donate a minimum of R100 per person per night. Shamwari Group then donated R500 for every room night sold on this offer.
  • On an international level, CITES has taken positive steps to protect rhinos: Governments made a clear choice at the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (in Bangkok this year) to offer more protection for rhinos by agreeing on timelines that will help two of the worst offenders in the rhino horn trade, Vietnam and Mozambique, to clean up their act (by strengthening and enforcing legislation).
  • In the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province of South Africa sports has been used as a common denominator for bringing different groups of people together in rhino conservation. Ezemvelo Wildlife held a gala dinner in Richard’s Bay to raise funds for conservation and R140000 was raised through a celebrity auction. Items belonging to South Africa’s swimming gold medallist, Chad le Clos, and other sports heroes      were auctioned. The auction also included boxing gloves donated by former American World Boxing Champion, George Foreman. Ezemvelo Wildlife are very involved in organising sports events/leagues and sporting opportunities for local communities. Through their association with SAFA (South African Football Association), SAFA have come on board, and are “glad to be associated with Ezemvelo Wildlife in fighting against rhino poaching.”
  • School pupils raise funds for rhino: Two Graaf-Reinet schools, Union High and Preparatory Schools, raised R15000 for the above Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative.
  • Colin Ingram bats for rhinos: the South African Proteas cricketer has taken on the role as an ambassador for the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative, helping to further spread awareness of the need for rhino conservation efforts.
  • Stronger penalties as a deterrent for poachers – two men will spend 15 years in jail after they were found guilty of rhino poaching in Limpopo. They were sentenced with no option of a fine.
  • New technique revolutionises rhino safety: Impregnating dye into horns of living rhino has proven to be a deterrent for poachers.
  • Much support has also been received from the USA – the Seaworld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund (SWBGCF) donated a generous sum of money to the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative, with the funds being used for three rhino protection projects, two of which are in South Africa, and one in Zimbabwe, at the Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve. This reserve team are the official custodians for the last remaining rhinos in the Victoria Falls region, and the Nakavango Conservation Programme, an Eco Africa Experience project, works closely with this project. The introduction between the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative and the SWBGCF was achieved through the Mantis Group, who helped facilitate the birth and nurturing of this productive relationship.

Last, but not least, I have saved my favourites for last…

  • Twins host “save the rhino” birthday party: Eli and Joshua Simms in South Africa chose to use their ninth birthday party as a fundraising event in aid of rhinos. The boys contacted the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative, who embraced the boys’ idea and generosity. The party invitations included requests for donations, small or large, towards the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative. They boys drew creative posters stating “Red die Renoster” (meaning “Save the rhino” in Afrikaans). Each party pack included a little wooden rhino nametag as a reminder to the guests to continue their support for the cause. The boys raised R1300, and then decided to give 10% of their birthday money in addition, so in total they raised R1650.
  • A 12-year-old girl started a remarkable campaign to help the vulnerable rhinos in Africa. This 12-year-old Hong Kong conservationist Julia Murray has spent a lot of time raising money and awareness for Africa’s endangered rhinos. For her 11th birthday party, Julia and 13 friends painted “Save the Rhino” pictures. Afterwards, the colourful artwork was auctioned online and raised a staggering HK$30000 – donated to the Chipembere Rhino Foundation in South Africa. She has set up a Facebook page: JuMu Rhino Fund and is teaching local children by speaking at schools around Hong Kong. She has since gone on to raise another HK$50000, through bake sales and stalls at fairs and markets, and through selling bags with rhinos on the front, as well as rhino hairbands and key rings (all made in SA by local      charities).
  • The ultimate survival celebrity Bear Grylls has teamed up with Worldwide Experience, part of the Mantis Collection, to introduce rhino conservation as a module in UK schools. This initiative, called Voices of Conservation, provides a platform for teachers of 15-19-year-olds to teach Rhino Conservation as part of the school curriculum!

If this is what I found in only 20 minutes, I’m feeling encouraged!

The Wilderness Foundation could not have said it better: Saving the rhino is all about a global effort. Everyone can do their part, no matter their age, financial position or education. Cooperation between individuals, private companies, schools, communities and governments is essential. Mrs Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs in South Africa, said at the recent CITES convention, “All efforts to protect the country’s rhino population are not just aimed at protecting a species from extinction, but also securing and conserving all South Africa’s natural resources.” This sums it up quite nicely… to save a species, we need to protect their habitat too, and in preserving these natural habitats, we will be conserving all other species at the same time.

The sum of all the efforts is substantial, and with the positive and proactive attitude of today’s youth, my hope and faith in a secure future for the rhinos of our planet has been restored – our home Mother Earth is in good hands as this generation blossoms.

Rhino research

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