Sep 11, 2018

Lots to Report!

New Rhino Tattoos!
New Rhino Tattoos!

Greetings everyone! Many things have been happening in the last few months!

We had some amazing, handcrafted pieces of jewelry from an artist in the UK, that sold very quickly! And 100% of the sale was turned into a donation! We also had another handcrafted silver pendant, from an artist in the Seattle area that has a new home.. and 100% of the sale was turned into a donation. 

Kevin Gonzales (Pedaling Against Poaching MN) built an amazing piece of wall art, from cedar and epoxy. We ran that one as a one week auction, for an incredible $350 donation! 

My miles for the year are spot on, with over 3800 miles year to date. 

The Strava club has logged a combined total of 75,778 miles!! Enough to circle the globe three times!! 

And most importantly, we were very excited to be able to transfer $3,500 to the Zululand Rhino Orphanage!! They have some big plans to help these babies, and this money will be put to a very good use!

Best to you all!

Art for Auction! Spokespig!
Art for Auction! Spokespig!
Jeff shredding miles for rhinos
Jeff shredding miles for rhinos
Auction item!
Auction item!
Auction item!
Auction item!
Aug 9, 2018

Teachers are the key

Students in the northwest learning about rhinos!
Students in the northwest learning about rhinos!

Howdy all, 

 

It's been an interesting process here in getting our efforts to reduce demand for rhino horn to take off. Although our domestic program in the US, centered on Southern California has not been so successful, we have had great success internationally.

Domestically in the US, we have had some challenges in getting classroom teachers to adopt our curriculum, despite sending out several invitations to teachers and their principals in school districts across Southern California. We are realizing that part of this is our own fault. We made the early decision to use Google Classrooms for disseminating the materials, as that would allow teachers to communicate with each other on the bulletin board. However, we have come to realize that the Google Classroom platform, good as it is, has become a barrier for teacher adoption of the curricula.

As such, we are moving over to simply hosting the curricula on our www.helpingrhinos.org education page. Separately, we at Helping Rhinos have created a primary school curriculum and activity book that has been hugely successful, having been adopted for use by almost 100 classrooms all over the world. We have great hopes that we will meet with a bit more success in teachers adopting the curricula in this format, even if the value of the discussion boards is lost by doing so.

All that said, we have had great success internationally in spreading the message. For example, Wild Nature Institute, working in Tanzania is really interested in using our curricula in their education and outreach efforts in that lovely country. We have also been in discussions with the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit, as their education branch called the Bush Babies in South Africa are really interested in using these innovative materials to teach. Similarly the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is in the process of reviewing the curricula for their use in their on-grounds teaching and teacher training. 

We are optimistic and hopeful that with your help, we will help to reduce the demand for rhino horn in the US with some small tweaks to our approach - you live and you learn - and generate a generation of rhino conservationists!

Best to you all and thanks for being part of our team!

Home page of Helping Rhinos
Home page of Helping Rhinos
Aug 3, 2018

The Communities Have Spoken

Three of the Awesome Black Mambas
Three of the Awesome Black Mambas

Well, we have really done it now! We’ve been here in South Africa for four weeks, working non-stop, and I am really happy to say we are done! All told, we have completed 151 individual interviews about the social impact of the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit program – and we have even entered nearly all of them into the data sheet.

A few weeks ago, we finished interviewing all the Mamba women who were on duty (24) and all the Transfrontier Africa staff who support and enable the Mambas (7). In the last two weeks, we have completed ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY individual interviews in a total of four different communities where most of the Mambas live!

Our four core research team members come from Helping Rhinos, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, California State University San Marcos, and Romy Suskin Photography. We have greatly benefitted over these last two weeks by employing the deft, skilled, and patient five Mambas who acted as translators and surveyors in the diversity of languages that exist here. These fantastic women were able to work between English, Tsonga, Sepedi (Northern Sotho), Zulu, and Afrikaans. The five have amazing language and interpersonal skills – as well as being uncommonly kind and smart. Getting to work with them has been one of the highlights of my professional career.

The community interviews have been amazingly interesting, if a bit disappointing with respect to our main hypothesis. We had hoped to find that the Mambas have changed their communities, but that has not been borne out. There were a few interviewees that have been influenced by the Mambas, but over 90% of the 120 people interviewed didn’t even know of the Mambas when asked. Based on follow-up discussions with the Mambas, most do not feel comfortable talking about what they do with their community. So, it is not surprising that they are not making the social changes that we had hoped to find.

Nonetheless, conservation and rural communities can clearly be a match made in heaven. It was clear that people in the communities looked to conservation for jobs. We heard that more than any other response, and to nearly every question, even when it wasn’t particularly germane. The more that conservation areas can employ people, the better-supported conservation will become. As I said in an earlier blog post, unemployment in this area approaches 40%. Jobs create positive perceptions of conservation.

Another reason for positivity about conservation here in South Africa is that 98% of people interviewed categorically rejected the idea of hunting animals on the reserves, either for money or for food. Most were offended at the very thought of the act. Along roughly similar lines, most people were increasingly supportive of those reserves that were closest to them. They felt pride that “our nature” was being preserved and that people were interested in coming so far to see the animals. And, of course, for the jobs.

So, to celebrate this landmark event of completing such an ambitious series of goals, I am going to take the first full day off that I have on my own tomorrow, and will go tour the awesomeness of Kruger National Park. The jobs that are created by visits such as mine are clearly the reason why these reserves receive such an astonishing level of public support. I will toast every animal that I see in this Wonder of The World and be grateful for all the jobs that they bring to this area: Mambas and otherwise.

Local Community Member Participants in Our Studies
Local Community Member Participants in Our Studies
Part of Our Wonderful Team of Interviewees
Part of Our Wonderful Team of Interviewees

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