Call to move from caring to action to save dwindling rhino population

Children from five schools in the Gqeberha area hold the “Baton of Hope”, a centrepiece in a collaborative campaign to conserve threatened rhino. The photo was taken at the launch of two One Land Love It rhino conservation initiatives on World Rhino Day, September 22

Nikki Bolton of One Land Love It (OLLI} reports on the launch of two rhino conservation initiatives on World Rhino Day and calls on Christians to participate in the battle to save the species threatened by relentless poaching

The Eastern Cape has seen great success in rhino conservation in recent years, however, in the first few months of 2023 the region experienced its highest rate of rhino poaching in history.  Overall, in South Africa rhino populations are on the decline with poachers relentlessly targeting the Kruger National Park and KZN. “There are regional success stories — I would say the Eastern Cape has been one of those — but as a country we are losing the fight,” says renowned veterinarian Dr William Fowlds.

On September 22, World Rhino Day, One Land Love It (OLLI) a NPC focused on rhino conservation. kicked off our annual OLLIMove initiative. We maintain that it is the “ordinary people” of the world who facilitate change for the better. It is not enough to care, we have to MOVE from caring, to doing.

To give expression to this principle, we encourage people to participate in any event (organised or private, big or small) — an outpouring of solidarity for our rhino and other threatened species,” says Wayne Bolton, OLLI Founder.

For Christians, the call to conservation action brings to mind one of the first responsibilities God entrusted to mankind — to serve and preserve creation: “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” –Genesis 2:15. On completion of creation “God looked over everything he had made;” and was pleased, “it was so good, so very good!” –Genesis 1:31 (MSG). God is concerned about the physical world and stewardship of creation is part of our mandate, a role entrusted to us as we represent God on Earth: “God spoke: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth’.” — Genesis 1:26-28 (MSG) It is incumbent on us to ask the question: “What am I doing to contribute to the sustainability of my natural environment?” Are we succeeding or failing in fulfilling our mandate?

As we come to the end of this Heritage and Tourism month, preserving and serving our natural heritage should be paramount in our minds. In SA tourism is one of the largest drivers of our GDP and provides significant employment and business opportunities. Tourism is the lifeblood of conservation and vice versa. Safaris to see the “Big 5” are on international bucket lists but we face a tipping point as rhinos are relentlessly targeted by poachers.

Will Fowlds says:, “Overall, rhino numbers are most definitely declining and that puts them on a pathway to extinction. If we don’t continue to look at this problem holistically, and even more so from a nationwide strategic perspective, rhino will continue down this trajectory into extinction”.  

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OLLI is determined that extinction cannot be our legacy and last year Wayne Bolton completed his 2 145km rhino fundraising cycle from Swakopmund, Namibia to Gqeberha (PE) finishing at the Donkin Reserve on World Rhino Day.  He carried with him the “Baton of Hope” in the shape of a rhino horn made up of separate parts.  The baton parts were passed to a different endurance athletes who completed inspiring “moves’ for rhino.

This month, on World Rhino Day, the baton was passed into the hands of children from five primary schools in the Gqeberha area, who will support OLLI’s goals of educating, raising awareness, conservation community outreach, raising funds for direct rhino support and celebrating rhino. 

The schools are Collegiate Junior School for Girls, Clarendon Park Primary School, Westering Primary School, Woodridge Preparatory School and Grey Junior School. These children will show how to move collaboratively from caring to doing.  

Gqeberha’s Nyosi Wildlife Reserve, home of CCFA (Community Conservation Fund Africa), hosted the launch of this initiative. CCFA chairman Adrian Gardiner said: “World Rhino Day is a very special day to me, because without my dear friend, the conservationist Dr Ian Player, there might not be rhinos left to protect. What he achieved for rhinos in the 60s through Operation Rhino is incredible and we hope to continue his legacy. Together with our partners, the Issroff family, we hope that we can turn Nyosi Wildlife Reserve into a safe haven for rhinos to thrive for our future generations.”

The second event launched on World Rhino Day, was the ‘FIVE4ONE’ OLLIMove, which will see OLLI directors Andrew Stewart and Wayne Bolton, completing five significant cycling events to raise funds and create awareness for rhino. Visit www.waynebolton.co.za to find out how you can support them or participate in the events.

‘You can also participate in the OLLIMove by registering your “move” on the website www.move.oneland.co.za or join the OLLI Strava Club to make your contribution count. Challenge your family, friends and colleagues to get involved and consider a donation towards initiatives to protect our rhino.

Valley Crag Indoor Climbing Centre in Gqeberha made a big move over the Heritage Day weekend, hosting their third Forever Rhino Rally, a 24-hour “Everesting” traversing challenge. They achieved the distance of roughly four Everests with one junior climber, Joey Johnson, completing 9 042m alone. OLLI;s rhino conservation cause also benefitted from Coast to Craft, a 6km Zsports fun run from Something Good Roadhouse to Bridge Street Brewery on Septermber 25.

For more information:
Nikki Bolton (One Land Love It): nikki@oneland.co.za  +27 83 642 2374
Website for the FIVE4ONE: www.waynebolton.co.za 
Website for One Land Love It:  www.oneland.co.za 
Website for OLLIMove:  www.move.oneland.co.za 
Website for Coast to Craft:  www.zsports.co.za/c2c
Website for Forever Rhino Rally:  www.valleycrag.co.za

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