ACTIVIST IN ACTION: Hunter Mitchell, 10, from Cape Town, has been named a 2018 International Young Eco-Hero by the environmental organisation Action for Nature, for his activism in support of African rhino conservation. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Ten-year-old Capetonian Hunter Mitchell has been named a 2018 International Young Eco-Hero by the environmental organisation Action for Nature for his activism in support of African rhino conservation. It all started on Christmas Day, 2015, when Hunter heard about a baby rhino abandoned in the middle of the night by its mother. He knew that without help it would die, and anxiously followed its progress on social media.

Starting with his own pocket money, he began raising funds from family and friends, then set up a Facebook page. Mitchell felt inspired to save that one baby rhino, named Osita, but along the way he learnt about the poaching crisis and felt compelled to do more.

His love of rhinos shines through when he visits the Aquila Private Game Reserve, founded by Searl Derman, who saved Osita and opened the rhino orphanage that cares for Osita and other orphans. There, wildlife conservationist Divan Grobler teaches Hunter how to care for the rhinos.

“My family has converted into rhino-mad warriors!” says Hunter. He helps to walk the animals, prepare their food, feed them and coat them with protective mud. The rhinos recognise him and come running to nudge him.

ACTIVIST: Hunter Mitchell, 10, has been named a 2018 International Young Eco-Hero by the environmental organisation Action for Nature. Picture: Supplied

Hunter has made presentations to more than 10 000 pupils - locally, over Skype in Asia, and on a trip to Australia where he was impressed to meet environmentalist Bindy Irwin. He has filmed documentaries and videos to distribute online, and for the past two years he has organised big events for World Rhino Day.

“Keeping rhinos, elephants, lions, pangolins and so many more animals safe from extinction is going to need warriors, and I will always be one of those warriors,” he said. “I am only 10 and know my journey is just beginning.”

Established in 2003, the International Young Eco-Hero Awards recognise young people aged 8-16 who are taking important steps to solve environmental problems.

They are organised annually by Action for Nature, a non-profit organisation based in California, US.

* Follow Hunter on Facebook at facebook.com/raisethebabyrhinowithhunter.

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