On Thursday, 29 September the Gondwana Conservation Foundation (GCF) celebrated World Rhino Day on Gondwana Game Reserve as part of its Conservation Kids Program. At Gondwana we believe that involving our neighboring community is key to successful conservation. Through the Conservation Kids Program we expose local children, in various events throughout the year, to their natural environment and conservation as a career.
The day kicked off with the welcoming of 148 grade 6 and 7 learners from schools in the surrounding area. (St Lukes Primary School, Isalathiso Primary School, Imekhaya Primary School, TM Ndanda Primary School, Garden Route Primary School, Herbertsdale Laerskool and Ruiterbos Laerskool.)
They enjoyed an interactive sculpting session with world-renowned wildlife sculptor Mark Coreth making their own rhino heads out of clay. The children went on a game drive to see rhinoceros and other animals. They also enjoyed several information stations on ecology, the work of field rangers, antipoaching and evidence collection. The South African Police Services joined with their dogs and performed a demonstration on how they track ‘would-be rhino poachers’ and investigate clues at a rhino poaching “crime scene”. The children then practised firing paint-ball guns at “tick” targets which was lots of fun.
SAPREC (Seabird and Penguin Rehabilitation Centre) shared the plight of penguins and how to improve pollution in our oceans by upcycling as well as how to make your own eco-bricks.
World Rhino Day Fundraising Event
On Friday, September 20th the GCF also hosted an overnight fundraiser for 70 people to help launch its new Tertiary Education Fund. Nedbank Private Wealth was a large supporter of the event whose clients enjoyed a veterinary rhino procedure where rhino were darted to replace their ankle tracking bracelets for anti-poaching purposes. This was followed by a show-stopping sundowner with the Hout Bay Ingomo choir performing a beautiful selection of African songs.
Guests were then whisked home for a quick freshen up for the gala wine paired dinner with Anthonij Rupert wines. The evening included an enthralling live sculpture demonstration by world renown wildlife sculptor Mark Coreth who flew in from England to help the cause. There was no rest for our guests who were up early the next morning participating in more veterinary procedures with our rhino followed by a boma brunch and the South African Springbok rugby game.
A wonderful celebration was had by all and we are truly grateful for everyone’s contribution in making World Rhino Day and the launch of the new GCF Tertiary Education Fund a huge success.
The Conservation Kids Program Objectives
To expose children, from predominately underprivileged backgrounds, to active conservation projects within the Western Cape. The program allows groups of learners to experience a full day in a conservation area where they learn about the natural environment and how they can contribute to conservation projects in their everyday life.
The program provides the children, often resident on the periphery of conservation areas, the opportunity to see what is being done within protected areas and encourages them to pursue a career in conservation based activities. Key children that express interest in the program have the opportunity to participate in overnight weekend long programs on Gondwana Game Reserve.
The GCF has engaged with nearly 1000 children as part of the Conservation Kids Program and World Rhino Day celebrations.
The GCF Tertiary Education Fund
The GCF currently hosts 350 learners annually through our Conservation Kids Program in various day events and overnight camps to meaningfully engage with the local community and expose them to their natural environment and conservation as a career. Our aim with the new fund is to empower one of more of these learners who have shown particular passion and promise by sponsoring their tertiary education in conservation or a related field. We believe that the children of today must become the great conservationists of tomorrow as we all shoulder the burden of protecting our natural heritage.