In early 2009, the entire population of eleven Rhino were killed on an Eastern Cape reserve where we ran our horse trail business. This was the first time that rhino poaching became real to Lloyd and me, which sparked deep anger, sadness and complete helplessness. By Isabel Wolf-Gillespie.
Today every 12 hours about 2000kg of Rhino life is slaughtered for about 5kg of horn weight, and despite all that is being done Rhino poaching is still very much on the increase. At this rate the children of today will not lay their eyes upon this species as adults. A demand for horn in Asian countries has caused symptoms of large-scale slaughter, poaching, violence, greed and corruption.
When we moved away from the Eastern Cape in 2011, we synchronistically met Dr Ian Player who has since become our mentor and friend, guiding us in our quest to find ultimate purpose in life. After many conversations between Ian, Lloyd and myself, the ‘Rhino Knights’ campaign under the banner of our non-profit company Earth Awareness was born.
Earth Awareness resulted from our 7,411km life changing journey around South Africa with horses (Ebook “Between Fire and Shadow” available on Amazon) and is all about creating awareness of self, others and the environment, which ultimately creates greater care for our planet.
Rhino Knights Campaign
‘Rhino Knights’ mission is our contribution to solving the rhino poaching problem, by creating global awareness and raising funds for the Rhino initiatives of the Magubu Ntombela Foundation (founded by Dr. Ian Player) and the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization (Founded by Lawrence Anthony, author of The Elephant Whisperer and The Last Rhino).
Rhino Knights is the start of our commitment to Africa´s wildlife and we are 100% dedicated to this. Phase 1 of the campaign (Phases 2 and 3 to follow afterwards) is a 10,000km journey around Southern Africa and every day on the move. I will run a half marathon (21km); cycle 60-80km and, on the same day in some parts of Southern Africa, horse ride an entry level endurance event of about 20km. Covering an average of a 100km a day, our route will take us through some beautiful, yet harsh and very remote countryside in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique back to Durban.
Assisted by a support vehicle with my husband Lloyd and my sister Raphaela, I will cover the total distance in about 5 months. Lloyd has been training for this but an old injury has played up and after an MRI scan he was advised by an orthopaedic surgeon that it would not be a good idea to go on an extreme physical journey like this. Now he will fullfil the vital role of campaign coordinator and filmer.
Some parts of the journey will be done without the horse component and the travelled distance on foot and bicycle will therefore increase.
During the campaign we are networking with as many conservation organizations and individuals from reserves and parks as possible, to show support and gain knowledge and information on the current Rhino situation. The awareness drive involving the public aims to cover the world with Rhino Knights, uniting our voices as one for Rhino and we are inviting the public to run and cycle with us wherever they can. Information on dates for fun runs and the proposed route can be found on our website www.earthawareness.co.za.
Along our route we have arranged talks at schools to motivate and inspire younger generations to listen and hear nature´s desperate cry for help! We live in a country flooded by rubbish and litter, 668 dead Rhino last year and 203 dead this year already, a list of endangered species worldwide that continuously grows, natural resources being used and exploited beyond the limits. Overpopulation by man hungry for food, space, power and more has led to a dwindling animal and plant kingdom.
The preparation and organization of the campaign has been challenging, filled with daily disappointments and successes in between. I find myself caught up, sometimes stuck in the battles after yet another disappointment or downturn and I have to remind myself why I am doing this again… But the harsh reality of the situation brings me quickly back on track along with new found energy and motivation to forge ahead. In today’s world animals can not make choices for themselves and we need to make good choices for them!
Through this campaign, we encourage the real social change that’s needed for the betterment of our planet! In our own private capacities we all have the power to create change for the future of this planet and its children.
If you would like to get involved in the campaign, become a sponsor, or to show your support email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Donations for as little as R10 ($1.13USD) can be sent via SMS to 48716 with the words RHINOKNIGHTS in the text field.