Kids rocking conservation

First published on Africa Geographic’s Blog

Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon: Bryan Daniels-Fok (5) and Ethan Nicholson (7) donated a combined R9,484 to Rhino SA in an attempt to support South Africa’s wildlife conservation efforts and save the species from extinction, one rhino at a time…

From left: Irene Huysamen, Margie Kolver, Bryan’s mum Mina Daniels-Fok with baby Liam, Bryan, grandfather Sam Fok and Lorinda Botha (Director of Bryan’s crèche, ‘Busy Hands’). Photo courtesy of Irene Huysame

From left: Irene Huysamen, Margie Kolver, Bryan’s mum Mina Daniels-Fok with baby Liam, Bryan, grandfather Sam Fok and Lorinda Botha (Director of Bryan’s crèche, ‘Busy Hands’). Photo courtesy of Irene Huysame

‘We had been informed about the two donations, but had no clue it was going to be that amount of money,’ says Irene Huysamen, chairperson of the non-profit organisation Green Wall of Africa (GWA) and project manager of Rhino SA. ‘We were absolutely over the moon,’ she adds, ‘because the money will enable us to continue our work in educating South Africa’s youth about wildlife conservation.’

Instead of birthday presents, Bryan asked his family to donate money ‘to save the rhinos’. He even asked clients at his grandfather’s business to make a contribution. During a presentation held by Rhino SA at his crèche on 28 March, Bryan handed over the R4,090 he had gathered with the help of his family and other people to Huysamen and GWA marketing and fund-raising manager Margie Kolver. ‘A portion of the donation will go to the organisation Strategic Protection of Threatened Species (SPOTS) International,’ explains Huysamen. This initiative is involved in species-specific conservation efforts and works ‘right at the front line, out in the bush’, with a strong emphasis on anti-poaching methods and strategies. ‘There is a great need to raise awareness about what is happening to our rhinos,’ she adds.

So much the better that Bryan’s not alone out there! Seven-year-old Ethan, who was inspired by a Rhino SA visit to his primary school in Rynfield, constructed a donation box which he started carrying everywhere he went. He also asked his mother, Jaclyn Nicholson, to put a sign outside their house asking for money to ‘please save our rhinos’. After several setbacks and with an iron will to continue his mission, Ethan has managed to collect R5,394.10 so far.

Ethan Nicholson with his ‘Save the rhinos’ sign, raising funds outside his home. Photo courtesy of Jaclyn Nicholson

Ethan Nicholson with his ‘Save the rhinos’ sign, raising funds outside his home. Photo courtesy of Jaclyn Nicholson

As a fairly young organisation, Rhino SA is not yet backed by a corporate sponsorship. The main portion of the donations will therefore be invested in GWA’s current Global Education and Awareness Campaign, which holds presentations at schools, universities and colleges nationwide.

‘The children of South Africa are the custodians of the future,’ says Huysamen, ‘and our aim is to get out there and raise attention and awareness about what is happening to our rhinos. Scientific research has shown that they will be extinct in the wild within the next 17 years if current trends persist. South Africa harbours around 80 per cent of the world’s rhino population. As it is an incredibly valuable natural resource, it is important to reach out to the children who can become the ears and eyes of wildlife conservation.’

Green Wall of Africa and Rhino SA
The non-profit organisation Green Wall of Africa (GWA) was founded in 2009 and is dedicated to uplifting and empowering South Africa’s youth to protect and preserve the country’s natural heritage. GWA’s youth-driven initiative Rhino SA was launched in June 2012 as the continuation of the 2,000-kilometre-long walk ‘Rights for Rhinos’ from Musina to Cape Town in 2011. Headed by 21-year-old Robin Cook, Zoology student at the University of Witwatersrand and Honorary Ranger for the West Rand division, Rhino SA’s members and volunteers include primary and high school scholars, university students and concerned citizens. For more information about how to get involved, visit www.greenwallofafrica.com and www.rightsforrhinos.co.za

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