At a glittering fundraiser, packed with humour and warmth, the six-year old Zululand Rhino Reserve Foundation,which is globally renowned for its work with orphaned rhinos, and community related projects announced its rebranding as the Zululand Conservation Trust.
A massive R326,100 was raised through the auction of rhino jewellery created by a 230 year old British jewellery firm "Deakin & Francis" as well as some artwork by renowned local and international artist, including a limited edition of a photographic portrait of Nelson Mandela by Matthew William, which went for a whopping R90,000. The funds will help support the Trust's efforts to conserve the ever-threatened and dwindling rhino population, and other endangered species within the Zululand region.
The Trust, which was established as an NPO in 2011, was set up in partnership with the Manyoni Private Game Reserve (formerly the Zululand Rhino Reserve). Key to its commitment to conservation is their working in partnership with neighbouring communities in a collective effort to ensure the welfare and protection of the area, its wildlife and specifically its endangered species.
Earlier in February this year, the Foundation made headline news with the successful release of two young male white rhinos. One, named Ithuba, captured the imagination of people world-wide, was orphaned when his mother was killed by poachers, and the other, Thando, was abandoned by his mother when he got stuck in mud. TheFoundation was able to fund their boarding at an orphanage, their release, as well as their tracking collars, vet bills and transport costs.
Speaking at the fundraiser, David Attenborough, a Trustee of the Foundation, said,"Werecognise that conservation is more about people and their views, than merely establishing game parks. At the heart of what we do is the empowerment of local communities by helping with their education and by forging mutually beneficial partnerships in specific conservation initiatives.We believe that empowerment, upliftment, and education will reinforce the value of wildlife and conservation."
The proceeds from this event will be used to fund projects that the Zululand Conservation Trust undertake, which include vital and ongoing support of the rhino orphans being raised in the Zululand Rhino Orphanage, which in itself is a subsidiary of the Zululand Conservation Trust, as well as numerous community programmes which are under discussion with community leaders.