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Waterberg Academy recognises rhino rescue efforts

| January 23, 2020 | 0 Comments


World Rhino Day is commemorated internationally on 22 September.

Waterberg Academy, in conjunction with Save the Waterberg Rhino,1 the South African Police Service (SAPS), Hi Risk, a national security-based
company with a unit in Limpopo, and West Dune Aviation2 commemorated the occasion this year at the academy’s campus on 19 September. Local schools and the Waterberg community were invited to attend. Waterberg Academy is an English-medium independent school founded in 2003, in the heart of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Waterberg Biosphere Reserve3 in the small town of Vaalwater (Mabatlane), Limpopo. The school is a proud member of the
Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA)4 and is one of the schools nationally that flies an Eco Flag after attaining the Silver Decade Award and status in 2018.5

Police show prowess

On 19 September, Mark Godfrey, principal at Waterberg Academy, welcomed everyone and the head boy, Boitumelo Mataboge, opened the event with prayer. Colonel Potgieter, the provincial commander of the SAPS Search and Rescue,6 introduced all the participating stakeholders.

Everyone present was then treated to a grand marching parade around the field, led by the police band and incorporating police officers, the police’s mounted and canine units, members of Working on Fire,7 private security services such as Heritage Protection Group8 and Hi Risk, and the MACS’ Modimolle Bikers Club.9 Marlene van Staden, mayor of the Modimolle-Mookgophong Municipality, was also in attendance.

The adrenaline kicked in when the police gave a demonstration of what happens during and after a hijacking incident. They came in with the proverbial guns blazing. The highlight of the day was a mock rhino poaching incident. Blank rounds of ammunition were fired and smoke grenades were set off. The day continued to be marked by displays of the SAPS canine unit, bomb squad, tactical team, mounted horse unit and helicopters.

As if this was not enough excitement for one day, the SAPS Search and Rescue team also demonstrated how a police helicopter and swimmer save a person from a flooding river – the flooding river in this case being the school’s swimming pool.

Moving sentiments

Major General Jan Scheepers, acting police commissioner, afterwards expressed his hope that everyone would be more active in the prevention of rhino poaching after what they had seen. He said:

It is our honour and privilege to address you on World Rhino Day. I believe that the children are the leaders of tomorrow. You are the people who will be responsible for protecting our wildlife, our fauna and flora and rhinos in
the future. As parents, we need to be responsible and make sure our children get a proper education. Without education, there will be no future – not for you, not for your neighbour, not for this country. As adults, we are
primarily responsible for protecting endangered species, so that our children will one day inherit a healthy environment from us. I am humbled and inspired by the excellent facilities in the Waterberg area. You can stop the poachers. There is no way they are going to get away forever, but we need eyes and ears. Our young children and everyone else – you need to be our eyes and ears so that we can make sure that we prevent rhino poaching. You will be the ambassadors of this country when it comes to wildlife.

Scheepers concluded by saying that he had had the opportunity to judge some of the rhinos that had been made from waste material by participating school learners in the area, and the display of the art had inspired him.

On 4 September 2019, two poachers were arrested in the Waterberg area. Two rhino horns were recovered as well as a hunting rifle with a silencer, eight rounds of ammunition and an axe.


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Category: Summer 2019

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