Poaching: pair to walk 2 000 km to save rhinos

2011-05-11 00:00

TWO former Pietermaritzburg men, Paul Jennings and Siboniso Phakathi, set off this week on their mission to save the rhinos and educate South Africans about the environment by hiking from Musina to Cape Town.

Jennings, a former Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife employee and Phakathi who works for the

anti-poaching organisation Protrack in Limpopo, will walk 2 000 kilometres from the border town in Limpopo to the Mother City to raise awareness about the scourge of rhino poaching.

During the walk, they will meet school- children and community members to educate them about rhinos.

The rhino population has been declining steadily over the past few years due to poaching. Last year more than 300 rhinos were killed and this year already 114 deaths have been reported.

Jennings told The Witness yesterday that since they started walking this week they had completed about 90 kilometres and visited a school in Musina. He said the initiative has been well received by community members.

The business community is also supporting the initiative, with the car manufacturer Nissan giving them a car as a support vehicle for their journey.

“We have already received a great deal of support from the local community, and as we are walking, a representative of the Limpopo MEC has approached and told us that the MEC would like to talk to us when we get to Polokwane.”

Jennings said the walk was not only about highlighting the plight of the rhino but also about the role of South Africans in helping rescue the species from the brink of extinction in the 1950s.

“South Africans played a central role in rescuing the species from extinction. At one point there were just 50 rhino remaining in the Kruger National Park. We played a role in improving the numbers to the current 20 000.”

“It is also very important that we travel to schools and teach children about the environment and encourage them to care for it.”

Jennings said that by the time they finished their walk, he hoped the message of caring for the environment would have been communicated to all South Africans.

The pair are taking it in turns to walk and drive their support vehicle, and they camp in a caravan at night.

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