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Scamsters who pretend to be raising money to help fight rhino poaching are putting conservation efforts at risk.
This is the warning from environmentalists who are worried about the mushrooming of organisations claiming to be on the side of the endangered species. The public is being confused by all the projects meant to help rhinos and there is a risk of donor fatigue.
Keyrings, T-shirts, hand chains, CDs, plush toys, and even rhinos as wedding gifts can be bought to save SA’s endangered rhino population. According to experts there are now at least 260 new NGOs.
Last week retired Proteas cricketer Mark Boucher became the latest celebrity to throw his weight behind the anti-rhino poaching campaign.
Boucher, together with SAB, launched the SAB-Boucher Non-Profit Company with the aim of raising R1 million to register SA’s 18 000 rhinos on a DNA database.
At the last count, according to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the number of rhino poached since the beginning of the year is 219, with 32 in KZN.
While money is needed for anti-rhino poaching initiatives such as increased border control measures and sniffer dogs at international airports, some of the country’s leading NGOs are concerned.
Jabulani Ngubane, anti-rhino poaching co-ordinator at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, said having so many projects could be confusing to the average citizen. And with increasingly simpler ways to make a contribution, such as buying a hand chain, and constantly being bombarded with the “save the rhino” message, the public are at risk of being “rhino-ed out”.
Kirsty Brebner, rhino project manager at the Endangered Wildlife Trust, said at their last count there were 260 new NGOs raising money for rhinos.
“This is of great concern as it contributes to donor fatigue,” said Brebner.
She said there were fake organisations raising money, and this tarnished the image of legitimate NGOs. She urged people to ensure that they donated to, and purchased items from, legitimate NGOs, by asking questions about their work and financial statements. - Saturday Star