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Young rhino saver, local eatery join forces

A local boy will stop at nothing to make sure rhinos are safe and cared for.

In support of Endangered Species Day, young rhino conservationist Hunter Mitchell, a Somerset West resident, will host a fundraiser at Indigo Spur, Waterstone on Wednesday 16 May from 18:00 to 21:00.

The event will raise money for orphaned rhinos.

A percentage of the turnover from the evening will go towards the “Raise the Baby Rhino with Hunter” campaign. The money helps to rescue and save orphaned rhinos.

The 13th annual Endangered Species Day, aimed at protecting the nation’s endangered species and their habitats, is celebrated on Friday 18 May.

“Every rhino counts and so the more people we can get to the restaurant that night to support us, the more money we can raise,” says Hunter.

Spur Waterstone’s manager Christo le Roux says after Hunter pitched the idea to them, they were keen to get involved. “It is part of Spur’s policy and our policy to look at ways to support and give back to the community who supports us. We hope we can help him raise a lot of money,” Le Roux explains.

Last year, the 10-year-old conservationist was named one of Mail & Guardian’s 200 young South Africans who have made an invaluable contribution to the country, as a result of his rhino awareness campaign.

To date, Hunter has managed to raise R180 000 for his awareness campaign and has reach 10 000 children through talks at schools, eco clubs and scout groups.

“I have even done some talks at Probus clubs around the Helderberg and also Rotary clubs,” he related.

“Everyone is so supportive and I know the word is spreading and more people are standing up to help the cause.”

Since last year, he has kept busy, filming several documentaries to get the message across and creating awareness of rhino conservation.

“Some have been shown in Asia, which is brilliant, as that is where most of the rhino horns end up being used,” Hunter said. “I have also filmed a big documentary with a German film crew, which will air in Europe at the beginning of June, and then a SABC 2 series called Behind the Rainbow. It starts this month and my episode will air on Thursday 5 July.”

He is also an ambassador for Saving Private Rhino, an initiative to ensure the future conservation of Africa’s rhinos and wildlife heritage.

If that isn’t enough, Hunter has started working on a story book which he hopes to have illustrated and published, to encourage, inspire and educate children around the world.

On World Environment Day (Tuesday 5 June), Hunter and his mother will be travel to Pretoria as he has been named a finalist in this year’s Eco-Logic Awards.

Commenting on the onslaught on rhinos, he said: “Rhino poaching has been very bad. Last week reserves found 14 dead rhino due to horrible poaching attacks. Four of those were moms of very young babies.”

Hunter added that search and rescue operations are very expensive – a helicopter search alone costs R5 500 per hour.

Then comes the financial and personal responsibility of dedicated teams and volunteers who come along and take care of these orphaned rhino.

“The future of our rhino is everyone’s problem and by coming to Spur [on Wednesday] people can help in a small way, and have a great meal!” Hunter encouraged.

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