This year marks the 10th anniversary of World Rhino Day, and to celebrate, we are honouring our Rhino Heroes! These are the people and places doing incredible things to save rhinos.
South Africa (22 September 2021) – September 22 marks World Rhino Day, and there’s no better time to commit to doing our part to help save the rhino from threatened extinction. With South Africa’s wildlife – and its rhino population in particular – already under extreme pressure thanks to issues including poaching and contraction of their natural habitat, it’s up to every one of us to do whatever we can to ensure these magnificent creatures don’t become something that future generations experience only in books and photographs.
So many people and organisations are working to save the species, and we have decided to honour them this year. In no particular order, these are our rhino heroes!
The Rhino Orphanage
Arrie van Deventer founded the Rhino Orphanage in 2012. The orphanage takes in young rhinos, rehabilitates them and then releases them back into the wild when they are ready. The facility became the World’s First Rhino Orphanage.
Since then, they have saved countless young rhinos and returned them back to the wild. The team dedicate themselves entirely to the cause, working day and night to be there for the scared young souls.
“We will never give, never stop fighting, never stop caring”.
You can find out more about the orphanage via their website here.
Care For Wild Rhino Sanctuary (CFWRS)
Petronel Nieuwoudt founded care For Wild Rhino Sanctuary in 2011, and just a few months later, she opened her home to the very first rhino orphan. A few years later, the Rhino Poaching crisis was at its height, and the Kruger National Park needed somewhere safe to send the orphans found in the park. They chose CFWRS.
“I remember when they asked me to take the orphans from the Kruger. I was so deeply humbled. The enormity of the responsibility was certainly not lost on me. I took a moment just to breath and acknowledge the responsibility I was about to undertake, not just to save the lives of the rescued orphans but to safeguard the future of the species. Everything in my life had led to this moment and I was ready. Not for one second did I hesitate or look back. It was my calling and I had faith.”
The organisation has rescued over 80 rhinos in the 20 years since it was established, and Petronel has no end in sight.
You can find out more about the sanctuary via their website here.
Hunter’s passion for Rhinos all started on Christmas Day 2015 when he heard about a baby rhino abandoned in the middle of the night by its mother. He knew that without help, it would die and anxiously followed its progress on social media.
Starting with his own pocket money, he began raising funds from family and friends, then set up a Facebook page. He felt so inspired to save that one baby rhino named Osita, but along the way, he learned about the poaching crisis and felt compelled to do more.
Since then, Hunter has been honoured several times for his efforts to raise awareness for the rhino’s plight.
He has made presentations to more than 10,000 school children locally, over Skype in Asia, and on a trip to Australia, where he was impressed to meet with environmentalist Bindy Irwin. He has filmed documentaries and videos to distribute online, and for the past few years, he has organised significant events for World Rhino Day.
STROOP – Bonné de Bod and Susan Scott
Bonné de Bod and Susan Scott left their jobs, sold their homes, moved in with their parents and worked for four years to make a film about Rhino Poaching… and the documentary – which keeps winning incredible local and international accolades.
The South African wildlife crime documentary STROOP – a journey into the rhino horn war, by director Susan Scott and television presenter Bonné de Bod, started a conversation about rhino poaching on a global scale.
The acclaimed and multi-award-winning documentary is an epic investigation into the global trade in rhino horns. It seeks to understand why so many of South Africa’s rhinos are brutally poached due to the fact that rhino horn is viewed as a cure for cancer and other diseases.
The two filmmakers shot hundreds of hours of footage, over four years, between Africa and Asia, following rangers, journalists, orphan rehabilitators, vets, activists, rhino owners and even wildlife traffickers and illegal rhino horn users in the notorious wildlife markets of China and Vietnam.
Catch our review of the multi-award-winning documentary here.
SANParks Honorary Rangers
SANParks has anti-poaching units in every park around the country. They have teams designed to tackle the most prominent problems faced, but they also have the most beautiful support in the form of the Honorary Rangers.
The Honorary Rangers fill the gaps, raise funds and awareness for all the causes. Their work towards supporting the SANParks K9 Units has been invaluable.
“We are a group of passionate volunteers who give freely of our time and skills to support conservation in the South African National Parks.
“Our K9 National Project supports rhino conservation by supporting the K9 anti-poaching units. Well-trained dogs are considered a game changer for anti-poaching initiatives in the Kruger National Park. Almost all K9 encounters with poachers result in arrests. To find out more, please visit here.”
To support the SANParks Honorary Rangers, you can find their information on their Facebook page. These men and women volunteer their time to protect and conserve our wildlife, and we are so proud to share their stories.