Gold medallist Chad Le Clos of South Africa celebrates during the award ceremony for the men's 100m butterfly final during the FINA World Swimming Championships in Istanbul.

Durban - Olympic champion Chad le Clos has joined Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s efforts against the rhino poaching epidemic.

“As much as I’ve scaled the heights I have in swimming, and sometimes called on resources I didn’t know I had, I now want to attain a goal that seems even more ambitious than those I aspired to in the Olympics,” said the gold medallist.

“I have a great passion for wildlife and open spaces. When I see that so many rhinos were butchered last year in South Africa I desperately want to help stop this carnage.”

He said he would “swim that extra mile for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife”.

Chad has agreed to be one of Ezemvelo’s rhino ambassadors and will appear at various events this year. His aim is to help raise awareness of the plight of the rhino and boost environmental awareness among people.

Ezemvelo chief executive officer, Dr Bandile Mkhize, said: “How proud we are to have a man of such calibre advance our rhino protection plans.

“Chad clearly has all the ingredients to face big hurdles and overcome them. He embraces so many qualities I admire; determination, energy and drive. He touched the hearts of all South Africans for his extraordinary achievement in the Olympics last year.”

On joining hands with Ezemvelo in this campaign, Le Clos said: “I have good reasons for doing this. I took note of Dr Mkhize’s widespread messages and his pioneering and brave effort to call on Cites to allow rhino horn to be traded on the open market.

“For me, anyway, this seems to have been the only credible voice of a leader in South Africa to stop this horrendous poaching. I admired him for that.”

Le Clos backs the anti-poaching effort involving communities, where those including the Amakhosi living around the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, were being galvanised.

“It’s amazing to see at the end of last year that 100 young unemployed adults put their hands up and voluntarily became Ezemvelo rhino ambassadors. They are driven to helping educate people in their regions to protect the rhino. I take my hat off to their unselfish dedication.” - Daily news