Why We Need Wilderness

“Conservation is essential for the survival of our species.”

Spending a week with our good friend, ex-game ranger Paul Dutton, gave us the opportunity for many conversations about the state of the world that we live in. The crisis in rhino poaching has sharpened the focus on the natural environment and brought people together from around the world to work toward a common goal of saving the rhino. But that’s only part of the story.

Paul was a life-long friend of Dr Ian Player, who had a great influence on his life, as he did on our own. Ian is known as the man who ‘saved the rhino’, but he did much more than that in his lifetime, he brought many people to a realisation of the importance of wilderness; the absolutely crucial role that wilderness and all it represents plays in the life of our planet, and ourselves.

Nature can recover if left on its own; weeds sprout through cracks in the pavement and trees grow wherever birds drop seeds. Humans are in a constant battle to ‘tame’ nature- to take the wildness out of our world. But if we make time to reflect, we will see how our custodianship of wilderness needs to be addressed right now- at this point in time, because of so many factors that are contributing to the torture of the environment.

Wilderness and wild places are the ‘resevoirs of life’ for all ecosystems. Without them, there would be no wildlife: no rhino, no big five, no small mammals, no birds, or trees. There would be an ever-shrinking natural world. In time, there would be no respite from development or human encroachment; no place for quiet, fresh air, clear skies, green space or true wild-life. We would lose our connection to the earth, that which makes us compassionate beings capable of respect for other species, and people.

Dr Player said it better than I ever could, “The greatest experience, is to walk in the African bush, amongst the animals, on an ancient, archetypal journey into ourselves.”

The Drive Is On

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“Rhino are bringing people together”

Our trip around South Africa to build awareness of saving rhino is taking place in a unique and eye-catching ’rhino car’. The car is finished to look like an adult rhino with a young baby by its side. It was created for a competition to raise funds for The Rhino Orphanage in Limpopo. When the competition ended, First Car Rental supplied us with the car to show their continuing support for rhino. So the drive is on, and we’re bringing people together to share their thoughts and concerns for the future of South Africa’s precious rhino, great and small, while driving a life-size rhino.

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The rhino car is a crowd stopper – it’s a great way of getting noticed and people are responding in an incredibly positive way! At a SASOL forecourt in Salt Rock KZN, on a busy day when many  South Africans were travelling for the holidays, I was able to talk to people about all sorts of rhino matters. They wanted to stop, ask questions, and to offer help and encouragement in whatever way they could. It’s easy for people from all ages and backgrounds to come forward to share their concerns about rhino.

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The contribution of rhino to South Africa’s landscape is huge, and its up to us to accommodate and protect them. Experienced conservationists know that we can not lose these keystone species without affecting the entire ecosystem, without tipping the balance against nature. The future of the rhino matters; it matters very much.

Rhino Matters

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“Focus on the smaller detail in the bigger picture”

Two people make a couple; a group of rhino make a ‘crash of rhino’.  We have created this blog because a “rhino crash” could have a different meaning, and we don’t want to see rhino crashing to extinction.

So we have followed an ancient call to Africa in order to do something to make a small difference- to give something back, to a continent and a species that means so much to us personally. We have spent a lot of time over thirty years watching and photographing these prehistoric giants in South Africa, the home to the largest remaining population of rhinoceroses in the world. Why are rhino so important to us, or to anyone? Because they are part of the fabric of life; an inter-connected natural world that resonates in the soul of every being on the planet whether they are aware of it or not. Should we allow ourselves to lose a species like rhino, we lose part of ourselves.

This blog is about raising awareness; we want to build a greater understanding of the role that everyone can play. We have a deep longing to preserve, not only rhino, but also everything else that goes with it. Far too often we’ve separated ourselves from our origins; the original connection to Africa within all of us, and rhinos represent that connection. If we can save a species, then we’re saving ourselves by acknowledging and accepting this deep connection to nature. We, and rhino, are the smaller detail in the bigger picture.