|When a lion and a rhino kiss, there must be good reason for it! For South Africa, there was certainly a good reason behind the kiss between bizhub Highveld Lions batsman, Jean Symes, and an orphaned white rhino called Timbi, who is being kept safe at an Mpumalanga-based rhino sanctuary: bringing attention to the heroic South African initiatives protecting our wildlife.|
For those who don’t know, Konica Minolta South Africa is the sponsor and serious supporter of the bizhub Highveld Lions cricket team and we recently thought that we would introduce a couple of our ‘lions’ to some special children and rhino in Mpumalanga.
The children are part of our bizhub Conservation Academy based in Hazyview. More than 1 000 grade four and five children from the area – which is located very close to the Kruger National Park – are part of a conservation literacy programme (all fun learning on apps and tablets) that focuses on getting kids excited about our wild animals. Part of the fun includes taking the children into the Kruger National Park and also into the Kruger’s ‘Intensive Protection Zones’ for rhino.
From Hazyview we headed to a secret location where an organisation called Care for Wild AFRICA rehabilitates orphaned rhino and almost all of these animals are found alone in the Kruger after their mothers have been poached for their horns.
The long-term vision of the sanctuary, which currently has 25 rhino, of which seven have been adopted by Konica Minolta South Africa, is to release the orphaned rhino onto land that is secured, and where each rhino will be protected by a monitor.
“It was the most amazing experience to be so up close with the animal, feeding it and touching its tough, warm skin,” said Pumelela Matshikwe, bowler for the bizhub Highveld Lions. “It’s hard to believe that anyone would hurt the rhino if they have had the opportunity to connect and meet the animal, and most importantly, understand it.”
We have to say that we were thrilled to hear Pumelela say this. It is the reason why, as well as adopting seven rhino, Konica Minolta South Africa partnered with an NGO in creating the bizhub Conservation Academy. You cannot improve conservation without sharing its value with our country’s young people, and allowing them the opportunity to experience our natural heritage. Of the 300 rural school students that we have taken into the Kruger so far, not one has ever visited the park before. And yet, many of those same children can see the Kruger if they stand on the roofs of their houses.
Thank you to our cricketers for joining us, and thanks Jean for that famous ‘kiss’. We know it was a little more slobbery than you would have liked, but hopefully it will raise a little more awareness for projects that are collaborating to create a better South Africa!
About the New Equation in Conservation
The vision for the bizhub Conservation Academy is to develop a new equation in conservation. One that says: “It’s not just about saving animals. It’s about activating communities and empowering people.”
This accepted approach has been embraced by Konica Minolta South Africa, a member of the Bidvest Group and an organisation that has committed to fund and establish, the bizhub Conservation Academyin partnership with Good Work Foundation (GWF), a registered non-profit organisation delivering digital learning to rural learners and in association with: (1) The Nhlangwini Trust, owners of strategic land adjacent to the Kruger National Park; (2); Care for Wild, a registered non-profit rhino sanctuary; and (3) SANParks ‘Kids in Parks’ programme.
The bizhub Conservation Academy will become a prototype of what can happen when proudly South African corporations, conservationists, educators, technology and young people come together to create communities that are passionate about the opportunities of our wildlife.
The powerful result is that land is kept under wilderness and rare wildlife is given a safe haven.
For regular updates on the sanctuary and other corporate social investment (CSI) projects undertaken by Konica Minolta South Africa, please visit www.ourbizhubworld.co.za.
Konica Minolta South Africa, a division of Bidvest Office (Pty) Ltd: Ritchi Smith
0800 bizhub (249 482), email@example.com
Good Work Foundation (GWF), Ryan James
+27 (0) 83 382 3618, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.goodworkfoundation.org
Care for Wild AFRICA, Petronel Nieuwoudt+27 (0) 82 825 8735, email@example.com, www.careforwild.co.za