Motivational speaker and extreme athlete Braam Malherbe visited Groenkloof Campus on Friday 23 March, to support Olienhout in their anti-rhino poaching campaign. The Republic of Olienhout invited Malherbe to deliver a motivational talk, as part of their anti-rhino poaching fundraising initiative. Malherbe, an extreme adventurer and conservationist, is most famous for achieving a world first by running the entire length of The Great Wall of China. He currently presents on the SABC2 nature programme 50/50 and recently represented South Africa in the Centenary Race to the South Pole for climate awareness. Malherbe is actively involved in the anti-rhino poaching campaign. He works with rangers in national parks, and tends to injured rhinos when needed. According to Malherbe the extinction of the rhino would threaten other elements in nature that depend on it. “The ripple effects of our actions determine the outcome of our planet. We must stand together to save this iconic species,” he said. Sean Jamieson, Olienhout Minister of Rag, said that all proceeds of their fundraising events go to the stoprhinopoaching.com campaign. The funds are used where they are most needed. At this point, the training of rangers is one of the campaign’s main priorities. “Our proceeds mainly go toward training and equipping anti-rhino poaching rangers. [It costs] R22 000 to put one ranger through the six-week training programme and to pay for all the equipment,” said Jamieson. Malherbe also highlighted the need to train and empower rangers. “Rangers risk their lives,” he said, and he warned that rangers who do not receive enough credit are tempted to neglect the cause. Since Olienhout’s Rhino Week held last year September, and with the anti-rhino poaching stock they sell on a regular basis, Olienhout has also helped finance telecommunication devices for the anti-poaching teams. As well as metal detectors, which are used to track down the poachers. “[Detectors] locate the bullet in the rhino’s body when it has been poached. The bullet needs to be found and taken as evidence, so that the poacher’s weapon is found,” Jamieson explained. The police can then match the poacher to the crime. The stoprhinopoaching.com organization is currently also using their funds to train dogs to aid in the anti-poaching initiatives. The dogs are trained to defend and protect the rangers, to track down poachers and to locate buried weapons and rhino carcasses. Jamieson added that according to stoprhinopoaching.com statistics, 1.7 rhinos are being poached daily. At this rate, by 2015, the rhino will be extinct. However, Olienhout is confident that they can make a difference, as long as the students at UP are supporting them.
Photo: Bonita Lubbe