Ever since March 2nd 2012 when I first witnessed the devastation of rhino poaching, where two animals had had their faces hacked off at Kariega Game Reserve, I decided to make it my goal to educate and raise much needed funds to help save the rhino from extinction. This could happen as soon as within 10 years Ė this is reality.
3 rhinos were poached that fateful night in March where sadly one of the bulls died due to the loss of blood, but two had survived the night despite horrific injures. The rhinos had been darted as opposed to shot, so thankfully a reversal drug could be administered to wake the two injured rhinos. The next weeks tried and tested us all and the courage and bravery during every treatment showed by these two rhinos was immense and inspiring. They were aptly named ďThembaĒ (a young bull), meaning brave and courageous soldier in Xhosa and Thandi (a female), meaning love and hope. Sadly, despite all the efforts, Themba died 25 days after the poaching, however Thandi has made a full recovery despite a very badly scarred face. What is even more remarkable is that recent tests show she may well be pregnant and fingers crossed will be calving around December.
I returned back to the Isle of Man several weeks after the poaching and told everyone exactly what is happening in South Africa and founded Thandiís Fund Raiser. Our reputation just grew and grew all over the world and in under two years we have donated in the region of R230,000 to rhino conservation.
After spending several months last year volunteering here at Shamwari Conservation Experience, I was truly taken by their passion and determination to keep their rhino safe and felt it was certainly a reserve I wanted to support. Private game reserves have to earn and raise much needed funds for this kind of protection, so I knew this was something I could positively impact and support. This year one of Thandiís Fund Raiser beneficiaries was Shamwari Game Reserve and we donated several thousand pounds plus five camera traps to help with their on-going monitoring and protection. That money has gone towards the massive operation of collaring, DNA sampling and micro chipping a number of rhinos, which involves helicopter and veterinary support Ė the costs are substantial!
It was certainly a memorable moment when the day arrived to go out with the volunteer group at SCE to make my dream become a reality. When we heard they had located and successfully darted the first rhino, the excitement and adrenalin mounted. To be able to put the tracking collar on and take the DNA samples was just truly amazing and an immense privilege. I was so glad that joining me was Pauline Spicer, who works extremely hard doing all Thandiís Fund Raiserís flyers, posters and publicity material. She never fails to help and raise awareness at all our events and in return I wanted Pauline to see and feel my passion for rhinos by being so close to one, and feeling its warm breath, to fully appreciate their magnificence.
If it wasnít for the people of the Isle of Man and others from around the world donating and raising money, this collaring may never have happened. So from me I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to you all and to all here at Shamwari Game Reserve who work tirelessly helping to protect these majestic animals. If anyone out there wants to find out more on how they could get involved and help raise awareness and money then we have a Facebook page Thandiís Fund Raiser and we are on Twitter @ThandiIOM.
We are losing on average now 3 rhino a day in South Africa. In the last 5 years 2,575 rhinos have been killed. Already in the first 4 months of 2014 over 294 are dead with a predicted figure of 1,400 by the end of the year. This is serious and we have to try and stop this now. With only a predicted 20,000 rhino left and with the massive increase each year of poaching, it is predicted that rhinos will be gone from our planet in under 10 years. The thought of this earth being devoid of such an animal is horrific to me, it is time for action, education and prevention Ė please help us to protect these animals for our planetís future.
Angie Goody, founder of Thandiís Fund Raiser
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