Port Elizabeth-born Warriors and Proteas cricketer, Colin Ingram will be batting for rhinos next time he takes to the field.
The young sportsman is passionate about doing something to help save one of South Africa’s iconic wildlife species, and has signed on as an ambassador to support the Wilderness Foundation’s Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative.
“I’ve always loved wildlife and especially the South African wild,” says Ingram. “It’s special and should be looked after. I got involved as these majestic creatures are very special to us as a nation. It’s our heritage and pride, so the rhino is about every South African. How would we look at ourselves in the mirror as a nation if the rhino was wiped out? Everyone has a responsibility not just to look after our special rhino but our country and the world we live in. Thank you to the Wilderness Foundation for letting me be involved and help the Forever Wild cause in any small way I can.”
The initiatives main objective is to support conservation agencies and organized private game reserves in protecting their rhino as part of functioning natural ecosystems.
“We are extremely honoured to have Colin Ingram supporting our cause,” says Wilderness Foundation conservation programme director, Matthew Norval. “It is only through the joint effort of the government, public, police and conservation agencies that we are going to be able to win this war.”
Latest statistics published by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs on 30 April 2013 show that 273 rhino have been poached since the beginning of the year.
“We are fighting against highly sophisticated criminal syndicates that not only threaten our wildlife but also our national security,” says Norval. “The Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative raises, distributes and administers funds for various anti-poaching activities including sniffer dogs and canine units, aerial support in the Eastern Cape, equipment for specialised law enforcement units, vehicles and other equipment for various reserves and parks as well as educational material to help raise awareness of the issue amongst community members.”
The initiative is fully audited under the Wilderness Foundation, and has achieved a number of successes in the fight against poaching.
In 2012, the teams supported by the Forever Wild Initiative were involved in the arrest of over 30 suspected poachers, hundreds of extended patrols in parks around the country, several rhino notching exercises, the translocation of a number of rhino for safety reasons, and many public awareness events.