Jacaranda 94.2 recently announced that its fundraising efforts to help save the rhino from ruthless poachers have reached the million rand mark, and that as result, but that the skills and equipment of the anti-poaching unit have been upgraded as a result.
It’s been an extraordinary effort on the part of the station’s listeners and its staff. In October last year, the station held a ‘rhino thon’ and raised R1-million. The emphasis was on protecting large rhino herds in Provincial Parks within the Jacaranda 94.2 footprint.
Vital camping equipment, cars, radio system, GPS’s, cameras, and computers have been donated to regional parks (North West Parks, Mpumulanga Parks, Limpopo Parks), SANParks, and other rhino conservation organisations, including EWT, the Trackers and The Clive Walker Foundation.
“It’s all about doing what matters to our listeners and giving them an opportunity to make a difference in situations that they feel passionate about. People don’t get tired of helping people sleep more warmly in winter or protesting against women and child abuse,” says marketing manager and spokesperson, Jenny Griesel.
Asked how the station prevents ‘donor fatigue’, she said that some their projects are annual and “in these cases, we retain interest by keeping people up to date with the latest statistics and information.
“Other projects come in response to situations that are close to our listeners’ hearts. The rhino project was one of these. Poaching increased dramatically in 2010 and our listeners cried out! They turned to Jacaranda to find out more and to ask what they could do to help. We had to lead the way,” she said.
With so many issues, causes and projects out there that need help, it can be quite tricky deciding which to support. “It is true that you can’t support everything because if you try, your efforts will become so fragmented that you won’t make any impact anywhere, so we choose projects where we know we can make a real difference and ones that will give our listeners a meaningful way to participate,” said Griesel.
“Jacaranda 94.2 has developed a few key CSI projects over the years, such as the Winter Warmer, and in doing this, people develop a sense of familiarity with the project, they develop trust when they see that their contributions (in this case blankets) land in the right hands and make a point of donating annually. This enables us to take the project to new heights every year, and in doing so, help more people each time.”
Staff, she said, are involved in the station’s various CSI projects. The rhino poaching issue, personally, drives her. “A lot of research had to be done into the matter, into how we could help, whom we should work with and where we could make a difference,” she said.
Griesel continues to manage it and steer the Jacaranda Rhino Committee, the body responsible for allocating any funds raised for this project. She has personally led every intervention that Jacaranda 94.2 has done ‘on the ground’ in parks and in the field.
“Presenters Martin Bester and Barney Simon have also been integrally involved in this project and also done a lot of hands-on work, from being involved in darting and chipping expeditions in the bush, to equipment handovers to schools educational interventions. There are three rhinos in the Pilanesberg that are aptly named Barney, Martin and Jacaranda following the station’s support in this park,” Griesel said.
Simon’s response to the question of how he feels about senseless rhino poaching was typically forthright. “It boils down to money and greed. These savages who run syndicates have no feelings for animals or life. We have to do whatever it takes to save the rhino so that the next generation will be able to admire these beautiful creatures. The rhino is part of our heritage and it must stay that way. Shoot to kill I say!”
Martin Bester is equally angry about how our country’s rhinos are being decimated by foreign interests. “I really think it is our responsibility to protect these beautiful animals from greedy, ignorant people who have no respect for our country and it’s wildlife!” he said.
“This is our country, our continent and these majestic animals that should stay and roam here with the generations to come. We need to do everything in our power to stop this poaching. Rhino’s, or any other animals for that matter, are not to be abused, slaughtered and taken from us for financial gain and ultimately for some stupid mindless reason or belief.”
Griesel says the station’s approach to CSI is two-fold. Firstly, it finds and appoints specialists to “ensure that the project gets managed at the highest level”, but she also enables to drive projects that are close to their hearts.
Griesel says that 100 percent of funds raised via a platform such as a telethon goes to the cause. “Jacaranda 94.2 covers all admin and operating costs. We are audited to ensure that this remains the case,” she said.
Griesel said the Rhino Thon “opened the flood gates and we let anyone who needed funding or support submit proposals detailing their needs. We then put together a Rhino Committee who evaluated every single proposal based on its merits, the number of rhino that would benefit in the process, the closeness to the nationally identified priorities and our ability affect change.
“Every request for funding received gets evaluated in this way. From time to time, we receive donations of goods that were not specifically asked for. In this case, we investigate where it should be donated so as to make the biggest difference. Wherever possible, we include the donors in the handovers and do regular follow-ups,” she explained.
The Rhino Committee also did its own extensive study of what intervention could make the biggest difference on a broad level and the answer was clearly training and equipment. “It was after this study that the field rangers and anti poaching units training programme was put together whereby 30 rangers from various parks would be sent on an intensive six week specialised training course and provided all the equipment that they need (including camping equipment, uniforms, binoculars, GPS’s, torches, etc),” said Griesel.
Now the station can proudly announce that the first 14 rangers have just graduated, all feeling “much more empowered and confident to provide better protection for rhino. The next 16 rangers start their training this week,” she aid.
Elise de Villiers from stoprhinopoaching.com who has been working closely with Jacaranda 94.2’s project, said that “By investing in their skills – thanks to heartfelt donations from the public – we’re not only equipping them to perform effectively, we’re also boosting morale. We are motivating them on a personal level to do their level best and are showing them how critically important their role is in ensuring that rhino are around for generations to come”.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Johnson Maoka, Regional Manager of North West Parks, who said that “advanced counter poaching training is the key to take the war to the poachers against the unrelenting onslaught on rhino, as it will equip the field rangers with a variety of bush and technical skills to match, and beat, those of the poachers”.
Griesel believes that “This is a landmark project because it is the result a unique collaboration between private enterprise (Jacaranda 94.2) and the regional parks (essentially government) and will make a long term difference. These rangers are now able to meet poachers at their level and ensure our rhino are safer for many years to come.”
PHOTO: Martin Bester and Barney Simon with the rhino named for the station, Jacaranda.
Rhino Files blog on www.jacarandafm.com <http://www.jacarandafm.com>