Mar 19, 2018

Can't Stop, Won't Stop

Biking over Arizona
Biking over Arizona
Greetings! 
With 2.5 months of action behind us for 2018, and a lot has happened....
I've already logged over 1200 miles on the trail, all in the name of Rhinos and I have been spreading the word every day!
My Social media following has grown from 8 followers to over 2200! It is refreshing to meet like-minded folks from around the globe, that want to help support this very desperate cause. I have made a point to include educational information about Rhinos on my posts throughout the week. This has proven to be very popular with followers, and I am also learning new information as I go. 
I also have a Pedaling Against Poaching club, set up on Strava, which is 59 members strong at the moment, and growing each day. To date, the members of this club have logged well over 17,000 miles! truly incredible.   
Donations are steadily trickling in, and I have some other irons in the fire that should help to give us a boost. We have a long way to go!
T-shirts and artwork are both available now, and all profits will go directly to help rhinos!
Let's take a stand together, and be the voice for the voiceless!
I'll keep on pedaling...you keep up the support, and keep on spreading the word!
Can't Stop, Won't Stop!
Sincerely, 
Jeff Harrison
Pedaling Against Poaching
Part of the Pedaling Against Poaching Crew
Part of the Pedaling Against Poaching Crew
Ride the Rhino!
Ride the Rhino!
Jeff and the Pedaling Against Poachingmobile
Jeff and the Pedaling Against Poachingmobile

Links:

Feb 14, 2018

Progress is made!

Reducing Demand for Rhino Horn - Curriculum page
Reducing Demand for Rhino Horn - Curriculum page

After a half-year of development and testing, we began our rollout of our efforts to reduce the demand for rhino horns in the United States! This project is empowering 5th through 12th graders to change the perceptions of horn use among their school, family, friends, and community.

The root cause why rhinos are endangered is that there is an inaccurate perception among some users of Traditional Asian Medicine that the horn is of medicinal use. This continues, despite several rigorous studies that have found no medical value in consuming rhino horn. Most consumers of horn either never think about how it is harvested or created (do you ever think about that for the medicine that you consume?) or are unaware that rhinos are typically killed when the horns are harvested.

Similarly, those who are interested in purchasing the horns as investment – currently a very large demand in itself – usually do not think of where the horns come from or that their purchase leads to the brutal slaughter of rhinos.

Children are passionate, receptive to new ideas, and are disproportionately interested in actions that promote pro-environmental causes. In our preliminary experiences working with middle school students over the last half year, they are extremely effective change agents. Once activated through education and empowerment, these students are bulldogs for the good. We feel blessed that the responses from students have been so positive!

To this end, we began the formal rollout of our project by engaging several dozen employees of Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City, California. We are fortunate to have received generous funding from the Sony Pictures A Greener World grant program. The first component of this award was to enlist staff to recruit their children’s’ teachers, their friends and neighbors who are teachers, and others to reach out to us to bring our program to their school.

The 49 staff who attended were engaged and creative – little surprise from a group of movie-makers! We are excited as to where this partnership may go as we strive to effectively engage students in reducing demand for rhino horn in Southern California community. All signs are for a great success, and we cannot wait.

If you are a teacher, or know someone who is a teacher, and would like to empower your students to make a real contribution to conservation by helping to reduce demand for rhino horn in the United States, please contact us by email.

If you would like to schedule an assembly, classroom discussion, or virtual visit with Helping Rhinos please also contact us by email. We have scheduled a half dozen already for early March, and have room for many more!

Presentation to Sony Pictures Staff
Presentation to Sony Pictures Staff

Links:

Feb 14, 2018

A (Mostly) Smooth Rolling Start

Survey Team in The Field, with 3 Mambas
Survey Team in The Field, with 3 Mambas

Well, we’ve now officially been here in South Africa for just a bit over one week, and I cannot believe how much we have been able to accomplish in this relatively short time! Amazingly, we have completed all the interviews for two of the four projects that we had planned to complete while here. I could not be prouder of my research team, or more grateful to our wonderful collaborators at Transfrontier Africa and the Black Mambas.

The all-woman Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit are a core part of Transfrontier Africa’s efforts to conserve wildlife. The Mambas are the reason why we are here, as we hope to evaluate the social impacts of this group of path-breaking conservationists on the communities in which they work, on the children that they are educating, and on the women themselves.

Having the opportunity to meet and interview all of them in one week is more inspirational than I had expected. I knew that they would be amazing, but I was not completely ready for the degree to which that is true. As our insightful Director of Animal Programs RoxAnna Breitigan says, to a person, they are real superheroes, living Wonder Women.

The Mambas patrol five different parcels of the Balule Nature Reserve, which is directly connected to the global treasure of Kruger National Park. The answers of each team to our queries has been noticeably different from the others, which all sharing core values and perspectives. Interestingly, the group-level differences by parcel may reveal aspects of the emergent cultures in their home communities as well.

Our initial results clearly indicate that the Black Mamba program has fundamentally transformed how the women view themselves, as well as what they think women are capable of doing. In a culture that is exceptionally male-dominated, this is transformative in many ways. The women are the household breadwinners in the communities in which they live. They are the educators and conservation advocates, and they are becoming community leaders. We look forward to exploring these last points when we start our interviews with people in their communities next week.

The second big project that we’ve been able to complete is to interview all the staff of Transfrontier Africa. We are particularly interested about their thoughts and perceptions of the Mambas and how the program could be improved. All are incredibly proud of the education and outreach work that the Mambas are doing, but all wanted to improve the early detection and enforcement efforts against poachers on the grounds. To a person, the staff of TA are acutely proud of the Black Mamba program, and are particularly proud of how the women have transformed into environmental leaders. It is clear that the Mamba program is one that works, even from the perspective of the organization’s insiders – a group of people who tend to be the most knowledgeable and thus critical.

These great successes were accomplished, despite the dozens of mechanical challenges that we have experienced. The awesome Land Rovers that the kind people of Transfrontier Africa have provided us can go ANYWHERE, and I know, as I have tested it repeatedly (and not just because I’ve gotten lost repeatedly)! However, that is only true as long as you have tires that work and an engine that starts.

A few nights ago, I had a blowout late at night, sending tire treads flying all across the road. I was traveling by myself back to camp, late at night, and in an area without cell signal. While standing on the side of the road, in complete blackness, with many bumps in the night around me, and completely alone, I should have panicked or felt unsafe. However, the brilliant stars overhead and knowledge of the amazing African wildlife all around me filled me with such joy that I did not succumb to panic.

Plus, before I was able to succumb, the Mambas who were out on patrol that night happened by just a few minutes after I broke down (thanks Felicia and Carol)! They initiated a chain of action that led to my friends from TA showing up with the functioning spare tire that my car lacked. They sprang from their car, changed the tire like they were an Indy pit crew, and we drove back to camp and hoisted many drinks to the goodness of Africa and her wonderful people.

Black Mambas from Grietjie After Interviews
Black Mambas from Grietjie After Interviews
 
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