Naked skydiver raises cash for rhino

2012-11-21 07:23
The WWF has said that the demand for rhino horn drives poaching. (AFP)

The WWF has said that the demand for rhino horn drives poaching. (AFP)

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VIDEO: Naked skydiver

2012-11-21 07:18

Skydiver Steve Newman jumps naked to raise money for rhino protection in the YouTube video.WATCH

Cape Town - A skydiver has raised more than R50 000 jumping naked to help save rhino from going extinct.

"Someone dared me to jump up in Rustenburg and I was like 'Actually I will.' Then I tried to make as big an effort as I can to raise as much money as I could," Steve Newman told News24 of how he decided to begin his unique brand of skydiving.

He raised R53 000 after his last jump and has received much TV and radio coverage for his determination to raise money to fight rhino poaching.

Newman said that he chose the rhino because of its unique status in SA.

"The rhino is one of our heritage animals: It's part of our big five; it's on our currency. There's so many different things that one can help and just saw this and I thought I can help out this way."


Over 500 rhino have been poached in SA this year and despite efforts by conservationists and officials, it is estimated that more than 600 will be killed before the end of 2012.

"It [poaching] will go to 600 - and probably over that because December is quite a happy month for poachers. A lot of the guards are off and so on," said Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of the WWF.

Newman said that urban dwellers couldn't always relate to the plight of the rhino, saying that he wanted to raise awareness on the issue.

"The guys who deal with it are in the bush and they deal with everything that's happening on a daily basis, but here everyone doesn't necessarily know about it," he said.

White rhino were nearly wiped out early in the 20th century, numbering only between 30 to 50 animals, and through the then Natal Parks Board and other agencies, the species recovered to about 20 000 in Africa.

Conversely, black rhino numbers declined rapidly due to poaching from about 70 000 in 1970, to 2 500 in 1990.

Newman said that the myths around rhino horn were disturbing.

"The more I've got involved in it, the more ridiculous it actually is. Like the main use for the horn actually for the powder for common fever and a headache which a Disprin or Panado can do."


He also challenged celebrities to join him for his next jump. Newman called out radio DJ Ryan O' Connor and TV presenter Janez Vermeiren has shown interest.

"I want to do a celebrity jump; I've been speaking to Janez from Top Billing. I've been trying to plan a Top Billing jump and get some celebrities involved - that should be pretty cool.

"Ryan O' Connor said he would, but saying and doing are two different things," said Newman.

Newman insisted that protecting rhino was a South African issue, as the animals were a national heritage for all in the country.

"I'm not a colour, I'm just a person. I'm just one person wanting to try and make a difference. I want my voice to be heard as a South African."

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Read more on:    wwf  |  rhino poaching
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