So what if South Africa’s last rhino dies?

This Tourism Week 14 June 2012

So what if South Africa’s last rhino dies? (And a challenge to Western Cape Tourism Minister Alan Winde)

What is South Africa’s tourism industry going to market if South Africa’s last rhino dies? Huh?

The Big Four?

I don’t think so.

If you think rhino poaching is a new phenomenon, you might like to know that Africa has lost more than 100,000 of them in the past 45 years – although, yes, the kill rate is now growing at warp speed: 1,013 have been killed by poachers in South Africa since 2008. And we lost 448 of them last year alone.

“We are only half way through 2012 and South Africa has lost 245 rhinos to poaching since January,” said Mike Rumble, who’s taken on the cause in the only way he knows: he’s joined the African Conservation Trust’s ‘Skydive for Rhinos’ campaign, and wants at least 448 tandem skydive passengers to jump at four different venues around the country in the run-up to World Rhino Day on September 22nd.

That’s one for every rhino killed in 2011.

But more about that later.

“Rhinos are worth more dead than alive to some people – but for us South Africans, rhinos are up there with lions, leopards, elephants, and buffalo, as icons of every aspect of South Africa: from wildlife (the Big Five), to culture and heritage (like the priceless gold Mapungubwe Rhino)” said Mike.

“Our rhinos are part of our valuable eco-tourism and safari industries: their very existence creates employment and generates important tourism revenue. And since 75% of rhinos in South Africa live in our national game reserves and game parks, they most definitely are OUR rhinos.

“Rhinos have been around for more than 50 million years.

“An attack on one of South Africa’s Big Five is an attack on South Africa itself: rhino poaching is a serious crime against our wildlife and our economy – it is theft on a grand scale.

“If each rhino is valued at around R 500,000, it means that half a billion rand has been stolen from South Africa since 2008 alone – and with rhino horn selling for up to US$ 50,000 per kg (the average rhino horn weighs 5 kg), the illegal sale of rhino horn becomes a multi-billion dollar black market industry.

“And this isn’t typical poaching: highly sophisticated and organised criminal syndicates (with no respect for the existence of the species) are using advanced technologies and equipment to kill as many as two rhinos a day, right here, right now, in South Africa.

“93% of the world’s white rhino live in South Africa, and there are fewer than 4,800 black rhino left. Anywhere.

“South Africa is quite literally their last remaining stronghold – and both species are under serious threat of extinction.”

“Time is not on our side, and failure is not an option because extinction is forever,” said Mike.

Now I’ve known and worked with Mike for some time, and he’s not called Mad Mike for nothing: he doesn’t just talk about stuff – he does stuff. And for our rhinos, it’s the Skydive for Rhinos campaign.

Will you be taking part?

Basically, he’s asking you to raise a minimum of R 5,000 for the African Conservation Trust’s Rhino Fund, and then to strap yourself to a tandem skydive master, and jump out of an airplane from 10,000 feet in honour of one of South Africa’s slaughtered rhinos.

For fun.

You’ll have to register with ACT to receive your sponsorship form, and when you’ve raised the cash (which includes the jump cost), take part in one of four national “Skydive for Rhinos” events:

  • 27 – 29 July at SkyDive Rustenburg, in the North West Province;
  • 17 – 19 August at Angel’s Way Skydiving Centre / Skydive Durban in Eston, KwaZulu-Natal;
  • 31 August – 2 September at Skydive Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape; and
  • 21 – 23 September at Skydive Robertson, in the Western Cape.

“The four drop zones are all registered with the Parachute Association of South Africa (PASA), and teams of dedicated, professional tandem masters will be in place to make sure that each event goes smoothly and safely,” said Mike.

“Sports skydivers are also welcome to be part of all the Skydive for Rhinos events – and our professional skydiving event, The Ranch Skydiving Boogie and Symposium (9 – 12 August), will also be dedicated to South Africa’s slaughtered rhinos,” he said.

Many celebrities will be taking part – and individuals and corporates are challenging one another to jump, too. (Download the facts sheet here Skydive-for-Rhinos-2012.)

So – Western Cape Tourism minister Alan Winde – what do you say? If I jump at Skydive Robertson on World Rhino Day (September 22), will you do it, too?

I’ll bring a bottle of Nyati jjj Mampoer from The Crags to set us right when we’re safely back in the airport lounge.

Get your registration form now from micah@projectafrica.com – and for more information, visit:

Contact ACT’s Skydive for Rhinos team:

  • Sheelagh Antrobus: funding@projectafrica.com
  • Micah van Schalkwyk: micah@projectafrica.com

… Or download a complete facts sheet here: Skydive-for-Rhinos-2012

SKYDIVE FOR RHINOS: THE LEGAL STUFF

Skydive for Rhinos is an African Conservation Trust (ACT) initiative that aims to raise R 10 million for on-the-ground, verifiable rhino conservation and anti-poaching efforts in South Africa.

The funds will be used for training and equipping rhino anti-poaching units (APUs), for aerial surveillance and support, and for community intervention programmes. These are urgently needed interventions, and money will be channeled to wherever support is most needed.

100% of the money raised will go to the ACT Rhino Fund, which has its own dedicated bank account. Every Rand raised will be accounted for, and no administration fees will be deducted.

  • Join Skydive for Rhinos 2012: Ordinary people doing something extraordinary for South Africa’s rhinos.

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