Rhino Knights celebrate their SA journey

Lynette Taylor, Eulalie Gillespie and Shirlee Nel.

THE Rhino Knights, Isabel Wolf-Gillespie, Lloyd Gillespie and Raphaela Wolf, held a completion celebration fund raiser at the Woodhall Guest House in Westville on Wednesday 2 October. The Westville trio presented a summary of their campaign, while guests enjoyed a three-course meal and an auction.

Proceeds from the evening’s profit were split between the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation and Magqubu Ntombela Foundation.

In 2009 Lloyd and Isabel undertook a journey on horseback around South Africa to raise awareness of African Horse Sickness. This journey took them 581 days, covering 7411km which turned into a personal journey of discovery. It was at this point they decided to start the non-profit company Earth Awareness NPC which is about environmental awareness and education, especially for children.

After returning to their horse trail business based on a reserve in the Eastern Cape, they were hit by the shocking and sad reality that the 11 rhinos that lived on that reserve had been killed.

“It affected us deeply. This sparked the wish to do something to rectify the immoral and unfair action as well. We moved to the Natal Midlands, we lived just 10kms away from rhino conservation icon Dr Ian Player, who has since been guiding us with his knowledge and wisdom,” said Isabel.

Having saved the white Rhino from extinction in the 60s, Dr Ian Player still fights for their survival every day. His commitment, passion and dedication for this cause is what inspired Isabel and Lloyd to prepare for their next campaign, Rhino Knights.

After two years of preparation, they left Durban on 1 May, to travel around Southern Africa to create awareness, educate and conduct a survey on rhinos.

“In four months and 18 days I have run and cycled 9 259 kilometers through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Swaziland, raising awareness for Africa’s wildlife,” said Isabel.

She said they used extreme exercise to attract interest from the public as well as the media locally and internationally to create this awareness.

“On route we visited more than 41 schools, hoping to inspire children to speak up for those that don’t have a voice. My vision is that they will grow up becoming conscious and caring individuals, affecting others by passing on the important message of wildlife conservation,” said Isabel.

Lloyd and Isabel also conducted a survey questionnaire with rhino conservation individuals and organisations around Southern Africa asking the question: “Why, with all that is being done, is rhino poaching on the increase.” They also questioned what problems rhinos face each day and what are possible solutions. A scientist from Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia will assist the trio with the evaluation and has shown interest in the results.

“Our arrival back in Durban filled us with a great sense of achievement, and with a new found energy and vision, we are forging ahead planning new projects,” said Isabel.

Deshni Ramkissoon-Pillay

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