Mpumalanga - In one of its biggest projects to date, a rhino sanctuary in Mpumalanga has secured a R600 000 donation to build a much-needed kitchen, clinic and security operations centre to look after and protect its orphaned rhinos.
Care for Wild Africa in Mbombela has started building the facility, which will be funded by the Antonie Roux Foundation, which was set up in memory of former Naspers Internet Operations head and M-Net co-founder Antonie Roux.
"We have needed this facility for years, in order to store dry food and milk for the rhinos," said Care for Wild Africa founder Petronel Niewoudt.
She is currently funding the building work from her own pocket before the donation comes through at the end of March.
The new kitchen will be able to store 50 bags of milk, carrying 50 kilograms each. Currently, the sanctuary has 12 bags to feed all of its orphaned rhinos.
Niewoudt said that the security centre, which will act as an operations base for guards, is also extremely important.
"Our security guards are a vital line of protection for our rhinos in the sanctuary. We also aim to release the rhinos into larger areas, where security personnel become even more important. Better facilities for the guards are therefore just as crucial," she explained.
Ilsa Esterhuyzen, a trustee of the Antonie Roux Foundation, said that the foundation was delighted to assist Care for Wild Africa in its attempts to save orphaned rhinos.
"We were delighted to be involved in this initiative. Our objective is to keep our involvement low key with the emphasis on the rhinos and the hard work Care for Wild is doing. This is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference to such a worthy cause," said Esterhuyzen
Niewoudt stressed that the centre still required businesses and members of the public to 'adopt' rhino orphans in order to fund their general care and protection.
"It is always costly to feed the rhinos, while the security guards also need equipment like night vision scopes to conduct their work effectively," she said.