‘Rhino extinction cannot be our legacy’

‘It is time to move from caring to doing’

EPIC JOURNEY: Rhino conservation activist Wayne Bolton recently started a 2 000km One Land Love It (Olli) Frontier Ride from Kragga Kamma Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth and will go through KwaZulu-Natal to the Mozambique border. He and the Olli team were welcomed at Lalibela Private Game Reserve on his journey. Bottom from left are Melissa Farquhar (Olli), Laura Bolton (Olli), David Shuttleworth, Thomas Retief and Wayne Withfield, with standing from left, Wayne Verster, Ticha Tshuma, Daniel Bolton (Olli), Regard du Plessis, Sarah Barratt, Vernon Wait, Wayne Bolton (Olli) and Rob Gradwill

IN 2015, Nelson Mandela Bay local, Wayne Bolton, set off on a 6 000km trans-South Africa journey to create awareness about rhino poaching and raise funds for anti-poaching initiatives.

It was known as the One Land Love It (Olli) Expedition and Bolton connected all 19 SANParks by cycling from Kruger National Park, along the border, down the west coast, all the way back home where he ended in Addo Elephant National Park.

With him he carried a “Scroll of Unity in Conservation” which was signed by SANParks representatives and it symbolised the common objective to the make the world a better place by protecting and managing what we have, stressing the fact that extinction can’t be our legacy.

On July 1 this year, Bolton embarked on another expedition, the Olli Frontier Ride in an effort to continue creating conservation awareness, to thank the rangers for the role they play in protecting our natural heritage and to once again, raise funds to support main beneficiary, Care for Wild Africa, the biggest rhino orphanage and sanctuary in the world built on three conservation pillars: rescue, rehabilitate and release.

The rhino poaching statistics can’t be ignored.

As much as my focus has been on saving our rhino population, it is clear that the problem is a lot broader than just our rhino

“Once again I feel the compelling need to do what I can to help halt the decimation of our world rhino species. South Africa is home to about 95% of the world’s white rhino and 40% of the critically endangered black rhino,” Bolton said.

“As much as my focus has been on saving our rhino population, it is clear that the problem is a lot broader than just our rhino. The world has lost three fifths of her vertebrate numbers since 1970 through habitat loss, over-consumption, pollution, invasive species and disease. Extinction cannot be our legacy – the time has come to move from caring to doing.”

Due to the increased anti-poaching efforts in Kruger National Park there has been a rise in rhino poaching in the Eastern Cape. Five rhinos were killed in 2014 and 19 last year. The situation in KwaZulu-Natal is worrying as well with a total 277 rhinos poached in 2015 and 2016 and 99 from the January 1 until May 31 this year.

With this in mind, Bolton started the 2 000km Olli Frontier Ride in Nelson Mandela Bay from Kragga Kamma Game Reserve and will continue east through KwaZulu-Natal, onwards to the Mozambique border where he’ll plant a flag with the message, “Close the gates”.

A life-size, fibreglass rhino named Olli, with the words, “One cyclist, 20 game reserves, riding for rhinos from Nelson Mandela Bay through the Zulu Kingdom to the Mozambique border,”  will join Bolton and will be pulled along for the journey on the “Olli Trolli” by the team’s support vehicle.  The public is invited to make a difference and purchase an “Olli Footprint” which will be painted on Olli the rhino and all proceeds will go to Care for Wild Africa.

We should never underestimate the conviction and potential of our youth and we want to give them an opportunity to demonstrate this.  There is something profound in having our children working together to give these rhino calves a future and making sure that their own children get the privilege of seeing a rhino in the wild

Bolton’s family are supporting him in this endeavour by cycling with him for sections of the expedition and together they’ve created the Olli #JointCustody School Rhino Challenge which has allowed them to partner with schools to raise funds for orphaned calves.  Schools collaborate to support a rhino calf from Care for Wild Africa and are challenged to create awareness around rhino conservation.  Grey Junior Primary launched the Eastern Cape leg of the School Rhino Challenge from their Fun Day on June 29 and on August 6 the KZN leg will be launched at Eden College, where Bolton and Olli will be welcomed onto their field at their annual Conservation Fest.

“We should never underestimate the conviction and potential of our youth and we want to give them an opportunity to demonstrate this.  There is something profound in having our children working together to give these rhino calves a future and making sure that their own children get the privilege of seeing a rhino in the wild,” Bolton said.

AT THE START: The launch of the One Land Love It (Olli) Frontier Rhino Ride at the Sun Boardwalk, with, from left, Wayne Bolton (Olli), Titus Chuene of Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, a representative of ECPTA and mayor Athol Trollip of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality along with Olli the Rhino

At the official launch of the Olli Frontier Ride, Athol Trollip, mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay and Titus Chuene, marketing manager of Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism – one of the main sponsors – wished Bolton well. Together with other key players and school representatives they were the first to place two digitally printed red rings on Olli’s horn.

Bolton has connected 10 parks so far including Kragga Kamma, Addo Elephant National Park, Shamwari, Amakhala, Lalibela (an Olli sponsor), Kwandwe, Great Fish, Kariega (another Olli sponsor), Sibuya and Mpongo.  At each park a ring has been placed onto Olli’s horn, and this will continue throughout the journey until Olli’s horn is covered in the colours of the South African flag – a symbolic gesture of reclaiming our natural heritage.

Petronel Nieuwoudt of Care for Wild Africa wished Bolton on his way with the following message referring to a heart rate monitor line: “Without ups and downs there is no life, and we from Care for Wild really, really support the efforts of Wayne and his family and when he cycles up and down those hills he is representing the lives of rhinos.”

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