One&Only Cape Town donates vehicle to Wilderness Foundation
One&Only Cape Town has made a practical and very real contribution to the fight against rhino poaching in South Africa. On 18 September last year the hotel hosted a gala event where an impressive R284 500 was raised in aid of the Wilderness Foundation’s Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative. With the monies raised, an anti-poaching vehicle was purchased and since it has been in use in a reserve in Mpumalanga, there have been no incidents of rhino poaching there – a remarkable testament to its efficacy in this conservation battle.
The Wilderness Foundation was founded over fifty years ago by leading conservationist Dr Ian Player and is well known for its remarkable work on conservation management. Now under leadership of Executive Director Andrew Muir, Wilderness Foundation formed the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative in 2011, which provides logistical and operational support for conservation and law enforcement agencies responsible for rhino security.
Amongst other initiatives, this programme is also active in anti-poaching training, intelligence support, a rhino survivor programme and tracking device project. Muir says, “The rhino is indicative of a much larger crisis and our organisation is focused on a holistic approach to conservation, by educating and creating awareness as well as providing practical responses and on-the-ground activity to prevent poaching.”
On the partnering in raising funds by One&Only Cape Town, says One&Only Cape Town MD Clive Bennett, “I have long been an admirer of Dr Player and it is clear that Andrew Muir and his team at Wilderness Foundation and the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative are extremely focused in their quest to make a significant difference; we are passionate about raising awareness about the plight of the rhino and other endangered species and are aware that as members of the tourism industry, we must work hard to protect our natural assets and help create awareness of the need to do so amongst people who themselves can make a difference.”
He furthermore enthuses: “The success of our first gala dinner held on 18 September 2013 has just motivated us even more to continue the efforts – the proceeds of nearly R300 000 from the event meant an additional vehicle for the Wilderness Foundation’s Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative anti-poaching fleet, and will make a significant contribution towards protecting South Africa’s rhino population. This is a long-term partnership and one that we will continue to support wherever we can, with planning already underway for our next gala event for Heritage month.”
The rhino protection vehicle that was bought is being used on the Nkomazi Reserve in Mpumalanga and has already shown its mettle. Wildlife/Rhino Protection Manager on the reserve, Manzi Spruit says they’ve christened the Amarok the “Amamonster”. The vehicle has enabled the team to chase off low-flying helicopters on two occasions already. And in addition the vehicle is used for patrols, observation and night operations. Most notably, however, is the inspiring fact that no rhinos have been poached since it came into use.
Clive Bennett concludes, “For visitors to South Africa, a trip to a game reserve is a must and it is thanks to the work of organisations such as the Wilderness Foundation that people seeking to get up close and personal with The Big Five and other wildlife are still able to do so. One&Only Cape Town is wholeheartedly committed to providing a forum for this tireless conservation organisation to continue their excellent work of protecting what we have now, before it is too late.”