ONE COMMUNITY HELPING ANOTHER
This story has many parallels. It revolves around two families living 1 470km’s apart, one in Hermanus outside Cape Town, the other up on a game reserve near Vaalwater in the Limpopo Province. Both families give abundant dedication to their causes, have stood up against all odds and play a considerable role in their communities. It is for these very reasons, and so many more, that StopRhinoPoaching.com is proud to have brought the two together.
The Little Shoppe and Studio – the family in Hermanus…
In February this year we received a Strategic Partnership Request from Alda du Plooy of The Little Shoppe and Studio in Hermanus. Alda and her team create recycle art and wire products, producing – as their motto states - sustainable income through creative design in the fight against poverty. Their idea: to build a life sized wire rhino to auction off to raise funds for a rhino cause. We jumped at it.
Over the last few months the Hermanus Community Rhino Project has gained enormous ground-swell and now has the support and sponsorship of the Hermanus Whale Festival Committee, the Cape Craft Design Institute and many more. Alda has continued to make miracles happen – not only for her community but for rhinos too. After a visit to meet her in May all the pennies dropped and I realised that her energy and passion paralleled those of the Walker family up in Vaalwater.
The Walker family in Vaalwater…
Clive Walker, synonymous with rhino conservation for many decades and the role he played in saving the species, together with his family established The Living Museum in 1997. Focussing on environmental education some 55 000 visitors - mainly children - visited the museum, the highlight of which was to experience tame black rhino. In 2008 the museum was forced to close its doors as a result of a land claim, and during that same year Clive and Conita Walker lost one of their beloved hand-reared black rhino in a brutal poaching incident.
Now, the Clive Walker Foundation is in the process of relocating and re-establishing the Museum. There are some 300 000 people living in 45 000 households in 117 villages, just to the east of the Waterberg Mountains, within the Biosphere, and many thousands more throughout. Many of the children within these communities have never seen a clean river let alone a rhino.
The key element to re-establishing the museum is to help build tame black rhino bull Metsi a safe boma where he can continue being an ambassador for his species.
A trip to meet a rhino…
Using funds generated from the sale of Rhino Bands and stickers, we flew Alda along with wire crew Bongani and Farayi up to Johannesburg. This would be Bongani and Farayi’s first time on an aeroplane. The next stop was Vaalwater to meet the Walkers, and tame black rhino Metsi. It was a very happy day. Armed with first-hand experience as to the vast dimensions of a live rhino, lots of photographs and a wax model donated by bronze wildlife sculptor John Bassi (www.johnbassisculptures.com) the guys are now equipped to make the true to life wire rhino around which so much now revolves.
An almost completed Wetsi - the wire Metsi - made his appearance at the Hermanus Whale Festival in 2011. Alda had arranged an old Synagogue, filled with bunches of donated vynbos, for presentations by Braam Malherbe in the morning and Clive Walker and Li Lotriet early evening. Clive's talk on the first rhino war, followed by Li's on the current rhino war made for interesting comparisons. Performed on the eveninng by the Lemon Studios artists was their rap rhino song, Please Save Me.
Our sincerest thanks to the Hermans Backpackers for accommodation, and to Jeremy Bergh from Alu-Cab for his incredible support, transport and the trailer for Wetsi.
Perhaps on of the most humbling moments during this whole project was meeting up with a group of wheelchair bound, and beaming, StopRhinoPoaching.com supporters. Alda had told me that all 25 of them had placed one of our stickers on their wheelchairs. Thank you, rhino heroes.
WETSI WILL BE SPENDING TIME IN HERMANUS WITH ALDA AND THE TEAM, VISITING SCHOOLS AND TEACHING CHILDREN ABOUT RHINO CONSERVATION AND THE CHALLENGES THEY FACE IN THE WORLD TODAY.
Please visit the following websites for more:
Building suppliers and contractors, if you would like to donate materials towards Metsi's boma please contact Anton Walker: firstname.lastname@example.org