The Amazing Rhino Story

The South African Children’s Endangered Animal Music Project

 As the number of rhinos, elephants, lions, and other large mammals plummeted over the last few years due to increases in poaching, a few independent international projects to protect wildlife began and eventually converged, which led to the formation of The South African Children’s Endangered Animal Music Project, to expand the message of wildlife protection to kids in Africa, and beyond.

In 2011, Irene Huysamen, Chairperson of the Green Wall of Africa, managed the “Rights for Rhinos,” program www.rightsforrhinos.co.za in which two game rangers walked 2,000 kilometers, educating children about the plight of rhinos and other animals. They spoke to over 16, 500 school kids on the main route and at the end of the 3 month journey realized that the South African youth had little to ZERO knowledge about what was happening to their heritage, in particular the rhino! It was decided by the team that they needed to start their own non-profit organization (Green Wall of Africa SEE Projects) as a platform for the youth of South Africa to have a “VOICE” for the “VOICELESS” and in June 2012 they launched the youth project “Rhino SA” www.rhinosa.co.za facebook: RHINO SA.

While scouring the Internet for resources to present to children on rhinos, Irene stumbled upon David Williams’ (http://realdavidwilliams.com/) Emmy winning “Rhino Song” (http://youtu.be/QOvIot-i6rY), which had been featured on a PBS show for kids called Big Green Rabbit.  This song became the linchpin in advancing the cause of rhinos, as the video of the song has now been shown to over 100,000 kids in South Africa, carried from location to location via computer and screen, stirring excitement, as the program has enlarged to children becoming “rhinos” themselves, complete with authentic badges, designating them as protectors of wildlife https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=4595853554095.

Due to the horrors of apartheid, South Africans of color were traditionally denied access to national parks and game parks, so generations were kept ignorant of the great diversity of African wildlife.  Even today, many of the people touched by GWA had never heard of a rhino.  When Africans do learn about the destruction of their heritage, they care deeply and desire immediate change.  Children in one impoverished tribe, after hearing the rhino song, spent their precious resources to create a rhino video of their own, as they wanted their voices to be heard around the country: they wanted a say in the future of the planet.

In 2009, two American children in Atlanta, Olivia and Carter Reis, realized that things were not right in the world—that animals were disappearing forever and that something needed to be done.  On their own, they started a campaign to save wildlife that ended up becoming One More Generation (http://onemoregeneration.org/),an organization to protect and preserve endangered animals.  In the blink of an eye they suddenly found themselves in a media furry, appearing on national television and featured in major articles—everything from The New York Times to CNN, and NPR.  Carter and Olivia collected over 6,500 letters from kids around the world who are worried about animals. These letters were then used to build a papier-mâché statue of a rhino (currently on exhibit at the Atlanta international airport). The rhino, named Elvis, will soon be presented to the South African president as a symbol of concern, urging him to take action against unprecedented poaching. It was through One More Generation contacting GWA in South Africa that they learned of David Williams and the Rhino Song, OMG contacted David in Boulder, CO, and soon everyone was in touch.

The Children’s Endangered African Animal Documentary and Music Program is now begun and consists of the following elements: Olivia and Carter will be going to South Africa in October to give the paper rhino to President Zumba, urging him to do more to protect endangered animals while also involved in the filming of a documentary about rhinos.  Later in the year, David Williams will be going to South Africa to write new songs with children of all backgrounds and races, composing a new album worth of songs about animals, incorporating African voices, rhythms, and instruments, to produce a CD that can act as the catalyst for raising much needed money for anti-poaching efforts.  Some of the songs will be animated as well and made into a DVD, which has proven to be the most beneficial educational tool for South African children, the combination of song and video. In addition, a film crew will follow David around South Africa creating a documentary and news footage to let the world know about the dire situation regarding rhinos, elephants, and other extremely endangered African animals who are on the bring of destruction.  Music provides hope, and David’s award winning songs can be used to teach children and families about the need for immediate action to save what should be thought of as a major part of the world’s heritage—the incredible diversity of life that makes this planet a wondrous home to us all.

The goal of this project is to—

  • Bring awareness to people in South Africa and the world about the tragedy of wildlife extinction that looms on the immediate horizon and threatens the heritage of all South Africans.
  • Raise money through sales of the CD, DVDs, and Downloads that can be used to prevent poaching.
  • Bring further political awareness to the government of South Africa, urging them to affect immediate change for the protection of wildlife.
  • Using the animal songs to create an international story that will motivate and galvanize people around the world to act, through donations or just through raising their voices, that the decimation of African’s wildlife must stop at once.

RHINO SA – GLOBAL YOUTH EDUCATION & AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

 

RHINO SA is a youth-based, youth-driven outreach awareness program aimed at educating the youth of South Africa and the Globe about the unmitigated and ongoing slaughter of South Africa’s rhinos. Initiated in June 2012, RHINO SA officially launched THE GLOBAL YOUTH EDUCATION & AWARENESS CAMPAIGN from the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania on the 29th October 2012. The driving force behind this campaign is a dedicated group of youth from schools and tertiary education centers, who aim to uplift and empower the youth to  play an active role in the preservation of their natural heritage, in particular the rhino, and the realisation that they too have the power to take a stand and make a difference.

 

MOTIVATION:

THE FACTS:

South Africa is losing 3 rhinos per day to poaching and has lost 561 (14/08/2013—DEAT) rhino since the beginning of this year and 2078 (14/08/2013—DEAT) since January 2008. The South African Department of Environmental Affairs anticipates the figure to rise to well over 800 by December 2013. At this rate the SA rhino population in the wild would be wiped out by 2026, if not sooner;

Approximately ±80% of the worlds’ rhino are found within the borders of South Africa,

Many South Africans (particularly the youth and those in less advantaged and rural communities) are unaware of the rhino poaching problem and the consequences thereof. Statistics derived from surveys conducted during RHINO SA presentations to schools across the socio-economic board reveal the following:

Statistics: Primary Schools and High Schools

–       6/100 000 youth members knew who Dr Ian Player was or the history about the rhino;

–       <20% have seen a living rhino in the wild;

–       < 30% have been to the JHB Zoo (in the Johannesburg Region);

–       <9% know why poachers are killing the rhino;

–       <3% know where the rhino horn is been exported to and what rhino horn is used for;

–       ±2% know the importance of the rhino within the eco-system

–       1% know how many are been poached and the time frame before extinction;

–       0% knew about the course of events from the rhino poached to end user;

–       80-90%  wanted to do something to help;

–       70% of the South African  letters to President Zuma are from black Children;

–       <10% of schools have eco-clubs;

–       100% of schools visited have adopted Rhino SA.

The end users of rhino horn (Asian countries) are unaware of the existence of rhino, the myths surrounding its healing properties and the imminent threat to the species due to lack of education,

Rhino horn is being sold on the black market for figures exceeding the price of gold (± US$60,000.00 / kg).

THE CONSEQUENCES:

The imminent extinction of the rhino carries with it, not only seeing the end of a species, but very real repercussions for South Africa.

SOCIO ECONOMIC: Eco-tourism is arguably South Africa’s greatest asset. Should the country see the rhino become extinct and the BIG 5 become the BIG 4, huge revenue through tourism would be lost, which in turn would result in job losses within the industry and ultimately increased poverty.

ENVIRONMENTAL: Rhino play an important role within the eco-system. Their eradication would threaten the existence of a host of animal and insect species who live in symbiotic harmony with the rhino. Rhino are also responsible for the seed dispersal of many indigenous plant and tree species, resulting in the loss of grasslands and savannah and ultimate soil erosion.

NATURAL HERITAGE: South Africa faces the very real risk of losing a part of their natural heritage to extinction. Humans are duty-bound to protect our planet and the fragile existence of animals like the rhino for future generations.

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GWA RHINO SA -Rhino Song – AUGUST 2013 2

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One thought on “The Amazing Rhino Story

  1. Thanks so much for featuring all of this. Your project is amazing and will help us all educate the youth of the world.

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