Opening Speech by Tracy King
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.
Closing Speech by Tracy King
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.
Praise song to the Rhinoceros by Credo Mutwa (excerpt)
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!
Poem by CJ Carrington
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
The SAFFR Song