Bill Barber, a member of the Rotary Club of Ramsey, delivered a compelling PowerPoint presentation to Leicester Novus Rotary about the charity of which he is a trustee.
Bill first visited the Care For Wild rhino sanctuary near Barberton, South Africa, three years ago as part of an add-on to a photographic safari holiday.
Since then he has made four or five trips and is now devoting himself, as an accountant-turned conservationist, to protecting wild rhinos.
Care For Wild in South Africa has embarked on a large community farming project to create employment, training and security for many families in the surrounding area.
Bill started by explaining that in South Africa there are two species of rhinos, the Black Rhino, which has a pointed upper lip which is very powerful and has evolved to enable Black Rhinos to feed from trees and bushes, and the White Rhino, which is a grazer. It has a wide mouth and uses its wide lips and toothless front gums to graze at ground level.
Warning his audience to look away, he showed slides illustrating the dreadful results of poaching, with even baby rhinos being killed.
The poachers are driven by greed; even though rhinoceros horn is made of keratin, the same material which makes our fingernails and hair, in China and Vietnam rhino horn is considered good for health… and as a display of wealth.
Care For Wild was set up by Petronel Nieuwoudt and exists to rescue, rehabilitate, rewild, release and protect rhinos. It has become the biggest rhino sanctuary in the world.
Petronel and her husband do not take a salary, so that donations– some of them armed — help the rhinos and the local staff who protect them. Volunteers like Bill have to pay their own way when they go to the sanctuary which is part of the 28,000 hectare Barberton National Reserve to help.
A new venture is to turn a 100-hectare former citrus orchard into farmland which is currently providing cash crops or vegetables sold locally but which might be developed to grow macadamia nuts. That, says, Bill, will support 30 or 40 families.
Among the sad slides he showed Novus, Bill included charming photo of Arthur The Brave, an young rhino who was very seriously injured when his mother was killed and photos of Wyntir, a female who was attacked by jackals which tore off one ear and badly damaged the other. Wyntir has been re-homed with other rhinos who act as her ears.
Bill also showed us a delightful video of another orphan, Tom, making friends at the sanctuary.
The annual running costs of the sanctuary amount to about £1 million. To raise funds, the charity has started selling wine via www.slurp.co.uk and Arthur The Brave children’s books on Amazon
Bill said that he had tasted all seven wines and enjoyed them all. Six have won awards. They are being promoted for Care For Wild by ex-cricketer Darren Gough and his wife.
Bill’s talk promoted many questions, including some from visiting Rotarian Patrick Boylan, from the Rotary Club of Leicester who played a major pat in forming the Novus Club in the couple of years leading up to 2009.
Last edited: 22:05 on Thursday, November 26, 2020