Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
Alexia Abnett the founding director of Southern African Fight for Rhinos is attending the Cites Cop17 at the Sandton Convention Centre so unfortunately could not attend here today.
Lex is the driving force behind SAFFR which was born after she had attended the China / Africa Forum in 2015. She realised then that were would be no stopping the poaching of our rhinos and wildlife if nothing was done.
At great expense to her health and personal finances she started SAFFR and the fight to bring the plight of our Rhinos to the attention of the world and more importantly to Cites Cop17 against all odds.
Her passion her tenacity determination and her doo or die attitude as well as her vast knowledge has brought SAFFR this far.
I joined up with Alexia in March 2016 and it has been one helluva journey. We have worked 18 hours a day, seven days a week and it has been my privilege and honour to work with and learn from this extraordinary woman. She has been my mentor, my friend and confidante. Through all the trials and tribulations we have supported each other through the good and the bad.
Alexia has many plans for SAFFR moving forward for our wildlife and the upliftment of poor communities.
We have already started in the schools believing that through education from the bottom to the top and not the other way around we can achieve much for our continent and especially South Africa’s ecological, environmental, vast biological diversity, can be protected.
The culmination of all this work and today’s gathering is the handing over of the 20 000 signature petition by Alexia Abnett to Mr John Scanlon which is in itself an historical moment under the watch of the 100 member delegation and the Kenneth Masikele High School Choir who will be singing for him.
SAFFR would like to welcome and thank everyone for taking the time to attend and support our gathering here today especially it being Heritage day.
We at SAFFR would like to extend a very big thank you to his excellency Prince Buthelezi of the IFP who is an avid wildlife conservationist as well as Mr Dlhamini and Phumlani Sikhosana for all their assistance in getting supporters here today. Without politicising the day We at SAFFR support the environmental Policies that the IFP have in place.
We also wish to thank Kenneth Masikela High School Choir for taking time to attend and perform SAFFR's song today.
Southern African Fight For Rhino believes that without proper engagement, and inclusion of the surrounding poor communities,within the wildlife industry, the constant demand on our resources will succeed in the extinction of our wildlife. Our campaign has been branded THIS IS OUR FIGHT NOW! because we truly believe that it is now time for change.
Syndicates and Illegal traders of our rhino, offer a handful of poor people the opportunity to earn vast sums of money to slaughter the rhino. This is not the solution to alleviate poverty. The few people who are Motivated by greed and money, whilst the rest of the surrounding communities remain disenfranchised and poor.
Without wildlife, there can be no tourism. Without the Big 5, there can be no opportunities for economical empowerment within the surrounding poor communities.
SAFFR will begin to work with some of these communities, by educating, re conceptualising peoples mind set, and assist rural communities through activism to finalise outstanding land claims. Many of these people who began these applications have grown old and passed away while fighting and waiting for these claims to be finalised.
These communities must be allowed access to their heritage, because without them protecting all the resources and wildlife, the poaching will continue, until nothing is left.
Eco Tourism offers the largest employment opportunities for the people on the African continent.
Instead of human/ wildlife conflict with problem animals these animals can earn the communities income. SAFFR is in the position to show these communities how to do this.
Self empowerment via tourism is extremely possible. By teaching and assisting the communities on how to access the opportunities, the incentive will be given to protect all wildlife.
Please all of you, go away and think about this. Go to our website and be kept informed. Contact us. Talk to us.
And once again our heartfelt thanks for the support today. Lets unite. Lets work towards 2017 being the year where we, the people make our voices heard. Together.
Ubbejane, you are the thunder of the valleys
You are the roar among the mountains
You are the noise upon the plains
And you are the horn that the moon loves to kiss!
You are the Rhinoceros
You are the invincible one
You are the weak eye that sees into years that are yet to come
You are the sharp ear that hears a lover’s whisper in the tall grass
You are the great foot that tramples everything into the ground
You are the delight of the woodcarvers
You are the joy of the painters
You are the song of those who cast in metal
You are Ubbujane, the Rhinoceros!
Together with the Elephant, Indlovu, many generations ago, you danced the world into existence, so that green things may grow upon this world...
You are Ubbejane, the Rhinoceros
You are the darling of the waxing moon
You are the thunder of the mountains
You are the vibrations on the rocky ground
You are the hardworking one, the labourer who laboured so that the Earth Mother might plant green things upon this earth...
It was believed that your dung, Ubbejane, which no-one dares set on fire to make a fire, can bring peace and and take away enmity between people,
Ubbejane, long may you roar across the plains of Africa...
Ubbejane, animal of our forefathers
Pillar of the land of Africa
Post that supports the green world that we know
Long may you live Ubbejane!
May you have a thousand sons and a million daughters!
Oh beloved of the moon goddess, Bayete!
I am Rhino
Hear me weep
As my family fades around me
And my babies die in defeat
Ancient children of this Earth
What did we ever do in our Wildness to deserve
This hell you serve us day by day
Nowhere to run to
No home to stay
We are strong
If you humans would just let us be
We have no argument with you
We have to live here - it is our home too
When will you start to hear our voice
You are humans, you rule
You always have a choice!
I am Rhino
Hear me cry
Choose to protect me
Do not let me die
I am strong
But without you
I am weak
From the sharp tip
Of my precious worthless horn
To the soft soles
Of my flower-shaped feet
I am Rhino
And I bleed
Southern Africa Fight for Rhino is a proudly African initiative that seeks to stir up and mobilize true African wildlife warriors into a strong united force, who are determined to restore our African struggle for rhinos and all wildlife, into the hands of indigenous Africans who have the plight of our African heritage at heart. We need the participation of every individual to succeed in our goal!
For a long time the fight for our rhinos has been dominated by large foreign organisations who are making millions of dollars, from donor funds yet are doing very little to support our African initiatives to stop the mass slaughter of our rhino, and secure the future lives of our rhinos once and for all. We will also be concentrating on all endangered species after the CITES CoP17, between 24th September to the 5th October
International attempts to save this iconic creature, have failed dismally, and the result is that our rhino are on the edge of extinction.
The South African government has continued to listen to only one side of the story, with regard to our rhino, and their sustainability to carry on living in the wild.
They refuse to implement laws to enable our rangers to become more effective, with the result being, that well trained rangers, who risk their lives as the first line of defence against poachers, who are armed with high calibre weapons, continue to put their lives on the ground, without proper equipment, and some have even paid the ultimate price. Poachers know that. Poachers also know that South Africa won't punish them harshly. A 'slap on the wrist' is all that happens in most cases.
They are allowing the mass export of OUR RHINO to countries who not only hunt and slaughter our wildlife, they are also quite happy it seems to agree to farming our rhino as a domestic animal. To harvest the horn to satisfy a market, which is run by syndicates, who are making billions of US$ on the backs of OUR RHINO, yet nothing has 'saved' them, and in fact they have continued to be slaughtered, in ever increasing numbers.
Our wildlife has always been a part of our different cultures. Our wildlife is part of who we are as Africans. When oh WHEN did we lose the heartbeat of Africa?
A rhino is a rhino. It has the right to be a rhino. It has the right not to be maimed in anyway, whatsoever. These sentient beings are walking around on private farms with no horn, because these so called wildlife farmers, who think they are experts, continue to stockpile in anticipation that CITES and our government will allow trade in horn!! They will become millionaires overnight! How much of that money will filter down into our economy?
This site is about making our government sit up and take notice of us, who are the rightful owners of our wildlife, and to make CITES realize that we do actually have a say in all of this . Our rhino do not belong in Zoos. Our rhino do not belong to Chinese and Vietnamese who believe that Keratin is a cure for everything! Our rhino do not belong on tables as ornamental ashtrays, or indeed, its sexual organs, cooked and served on peoples plates.
Especially we welcome the youthful ACADEMICS! Our future leaders, who will want to make sure that even after we are dead and gone, we can die peacefully, knowing that our wildlife will be safe. IT IS YOUR HERITAGE SOUTHERN AFRICA!
We are hoping that, we as the true owners of our wildlife, are able to be involved in the decision making processes, regarding our natural resources, utilising alternative land usage, and empowering ourselves through tourism, finding sustainable initiatives, that will ensure the balance of our biodiversity, and the ecological systems.
The fight for our wildlife begins!