By Christine Greyvenstein
It’s shocking to think that future generations might never see a rhino in its natural habitat. With more than 220 rhinos poached in the country since the beginning of this year alone, SANParks, the government and other organisations have declared war against poachers.
It has now also become the social responsibility of the corporate sector to help curb poaching. Sandown Motor Holdings Group set the example by donating a branded Jeep Sahara to SANParks. It was clear that for Veronica van der Linde, dealer principal of Chrysler Jeep Dodge (CJD) Constantia Kloof, keeping our rhinos safe is about more than just paying social responsibility dues. During her official handover, Van der Linde stated that Sandown Motors fiercely believes in social responsibility and doing its part in protecting the environment. “We, as a company, have realised that the protection of the environment is everyone’s responsibility. The poaching and killing of our rhinos is one of the most horrible human acts and is purely for financial gain.” She also showed strong emotions against the killing of rhinos. “This is very close to my heart and I can’t believe that someone would do something like that. We trust the vehicle, with its advanced capabilities, will be used as an equipped tool for the rangers in the ongoing battle against rhino poaching.”
Then SANParks CEO Doctor David Mabunda took to the podium and, being at the forefront of nature conservation, he shared his expert views. "We have a war on our hands and it’s called rhino poaching. The perpetrators are coming into our country in the dark night and [violating] our security boundaries. They are carrying arms of war ranging from rocket launchers [to] AK-47s and hand grenades. They are serious weapons used in war situations.”
He went on to share his appreciation for the generous donation. “It gives me great pleasure and honour to express gratitude, firstly to our honorary rangers and secondly to the Sandown Motor group. This is such a wonderful gesture of South African citizenship and patriotism. This is what socially responsible corporate citizens do. We find it really humbling that your faith is with us in terms of finding a solution. Sandown Motors has shown the way … this is how it should be done.”
The car will go to the Honorary Rangers, which is SANParks’ official volunteer organisation. It supports the work SANParks does in many different ways, ranging from assisting at entry gates and raising funds for anti-poaching initiatives to giving specialist advice on infrastructure and scientific projects.
Peter Zietsman, chairperson of the SANParks Honorary Rangers in the West Rand, accepted the vehicle and said that it would be used in the training arena.“[The vehicle] will also be used for patrols and follow-up operations when necessary.” He also paid tribute to his rangers, stating: “I believe that SANParks Honorary Rangers should be the glue that holds all the sponsors and sponsorships together – we are not putting one sponsor against another, but rather bringing [them] all together to unite against poaching.”
SANParks has urged all South Africans to help stop the bleeding. Anyone with tip offs of suspected rhino poachers or poaching incidents can call the SANParks hotline on 082 908 3053 or email firstname.lastname@example.org