John Hooper, director and founder of Rhino Tears wine, saw an opportunity to make a difference , when his passion for wildlife and conservation led him to create a wine that donates proceeds to help fight the war on rhino poaching.
Rhino Tears is produced at the Mt. Vernon Estate and is available in two variants; a delicious red blend as well as Sauvignon Blanc. R15 from each bottle sold goes directly to the SANParks Honorary Rangers to support the fight against poaching and protecting the rhino for future generations.
With World Rhino Day coming up on the 22nd of September, we asked John a few questions to know more about him and Rhino Tears wine.
What inspired you to start the Rhino Tears wines?
I have always been passionate about wildlife and animal conservation. Growing up as a child, I would spend most of my holidays in the bush, fishing or in remote locations.
The idea of Rhino Tears wine came about when I met with the Chairman of the SANParks Honorary Rangers Conservation Services Unit, John Turner. After
spending a couple of days together with the field rangers at the Kruger Wilderness Experience bush camp in the Kruger National Park, the idea for a wine that could raise money for anti-poaching efforts was developed.
The selling and marketing of wine is difficult and competitive, but it is rewarding. So, when the opportunity was presented to mix work with pleasure, I jumped at the chance to give something back and spend time with good people fighting a worthy cause.
How are the funds raised by Rhino Tears distributed to help anti-poaching projects across South Africa?
The funds raised by Rhino Tears wines are used to purchase equipment and train rangers on the frontline of the anti-poaching war. The money is used effectively and is not used for administration, but rather for essential equipment such as basic bush gear, tents, sleeping bags, first aid kits, cooking equipment and more. This equipment allows the rangers to survive in the bush for long periods, making them much more effective in tracking poachers.
The Kruger National Park also works with canine training and handling experts to train a team of anti-poaching dogs. The dogs are a vital tool in the park’s armoury against poachers.
What impact or changes have you seen up until now since the launch of Rhino Tears wine in 2014?
The biggest change I have seen since launching Rhino Tears in 2014 has been the increase in successful anti-poaching operations. Rhino Tears has attributed to strategies that combine more specialised training for rangers, improved radio communications, the use of trained dogs to track suspected poachers over longer distances and better coordination with law enforcement in bordering Mozambique.
Other than its contribution towards anti-poaching projects across South Africa, what makes Rhino Tears different?
Although there are many other wine brands, Rhino Tears is special to me. It was my chance to make a difference and support something that I feel strongly about. This brand isn’t about making money, it’s about creating change and giving people a chance to get involved with something important.
What did you hope to achieve by starting this brand? Have you achieved your goals so far?
I was looking for an opportunity whereby I could combine selling and marketing wine with another passion, that being rhino conservation. In developing this brand, it provided a vehicle for anybody to also make a difference by simply purchasing bottle as R15 from every bottle purchased is donated to the SANParks Honorary Rangers.
They, in turn, redirect these funds towards saving our rhinos from the poacher’s bullet.
What are the next steps for Rhino Tears in 2019?
We are looking to sell Rhino Tears all over the world. Every bottle purchased really makes a difference. The costs of the anti-poaching war are expensive and the men and women involved need all they can get against a ruthless enemy.
Visit the Rhino Tears website today, and support the cause making a difference.