White Rhino grazing at Monate Lodge

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Skydive for Rhinos!

Support from Kwa-Zulu Natal public and business communities is puring in for the world-first Skydive for Rhinos initiative.

The organisers of what ‘should’ have been a staff-based effort to personally raise funds from friends and family for rhinos under threat from organised poaching syndicates, are astonished by the torrent of support this Kwa-Zulu Natal initiative is receiving.

In addition to the cash donations, other gifts of support include: a unique designer ladies ‘wrap’ that incorporates ancient San Rock Art rhino motifs in the design, collectable wines, weekends at five-star game reserves, helicopter flips, donations for camera traps, aerial patrols and basic equipment for anti-poaching units, autographed conservation memorabilia and two table-top bronze sculptures of black and white rhino.

Skydive for Rhinos is the brainchild of a handful of staff from the African Conservation Trust (ACT), a KZN-based non-profit organisation that is better known for its work in preserving the Drakensberg’s San Rock Art and pioneering community-based initiatives that include water conservation, preservation of threatened coastal forests and large-scale environmentally-friendly food security and recycling initiatives.

“We’re overwhelmed by the generosity of business owners, game reserves, holiday resorts and tourism operations, artists, published writers, wine estates, film producers, venues, caterers, office suppliers and media houses – to name a few,’ said Sheelagh Antrobus, ACT’s spokesperson. “All we can say is a huge ‘Thank you’. 100% of all donations will go towards stopping the slaughter of our rhinos.”

The current national rhino poaching toll stands at 226: if it continues at present levels, South Africa is set to lose 400 rhino by December, 60 more than in 2010.

From an initial group of six staff volunteers, the idea has snowballed and on Saturday 6 August, 40 people will be jumping from 10,000ft in a show of support for SA’s rhinos, out of an aeroplane called Gabriel, from an airfield midway between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. 18 of these first-time skydivers are staff members of the African Conservation Trust. The remainder come from various environmental organizations, as well as private people deeply concerned about the future of the dwindling Rhino populations in South Africa.

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