Cape Town 160613- 15 year old Julies Murray has been raising funds for saving Rhino's while living in Asia. Yesaterday she was handed the Greefie , a human size Rhino statue by Greef properties. Picture Cindy Waxa.Reporter Zodidi/Argus

Cape Town - A teenager who chose to help save rhinos instead of having a birthday party has raised more than R200 000 for wildlife conservation.

Jules Murray, 15, was only 11 years old when she first started fundraising. She had been living in Hong Kong since the age of three and yearned to connect with her home country, South Africa.

Instead of hosting friends to a birthday party, she had decided to invite friends over to create about 15 rhino paintings, which she auctioned off raising R30 000.

“At the time all my friends were asking for money to give to charity and because my mom had told me about the plight faced by rhino, which are symbolic for South Africa, and of course Asia being the biggest rhino horn trade for medicinal purposes, I decided to focus on that.”

The money was handed to the Chipembere Rhino Foundation and was used to buy tracking collars for the wild animals.

On Monday, Greeff Properties handed over a life-size rhino sculpture to her which they hoped would help Jules raise more funds for the animals.

Last year, Greeff Properties ran a rhino awareness campaign where “Greefie” the rhino was showcased at the company's monthly mall expos. As part of the awareness campaign the company donated a portion of their home sales commission to the Rhino Wildlife Conservation Fund.

Chief executive Mike Greeff said: “We are handing Greefie over to Jules so that she can be the next guardian and do with it as she pleases. We know and trust that she will continue the rhino saving legacy and could maybe auction the sculpture and raise more funds for the wildlife.”

Speaking of her first encounter with a rhino while on a collar tracking expedition with a veterinarian, Jules remembered the rhino as “giant yet gentle animal.”

“We were up on the helicopter and I just remember seeing this animal lying down, it had already been tranquilised. I was able to touch it and it was so incredible.”

Some of her fundraising methods included glazing a hundred rhino trinkets which she has sold in Asia, New Zealand and to some of her Hong Kong neighbours. Through that fundraising she raised R30 000 which was used to buy more tracking collars, pay vet expenses and buy ranger gear equipment.

Since her arrival in the country over two years ago Jules has created wristbands with the text “I love rhino”, which she sells for R20 to school pupils. She has been supplying schools in Grahamstown and in Australia with the wristbands which come in the school's colours.

She said people didn't understand how bad the plight of rhinos still were with at least three poached every day. Right now there are less than 5 000 black rhino living.

To make a donation to Jules' fundraising can go to the JuMu Rhino Fund Facebook page.

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Cape Argus