Rocking for Rhinos
'It’s personal for us. These are our rhino, in our community, so we can’t ignore what’s happening to them. That’s why we’ve organised Rocking for Rhinos, here in Hoedspruit.'
These are the words of Gareth Putter, part of an 8-member team from this small Limpopo town that has, over the last 6 months, set up what it hopes will become an annual event – 'A music festival that will reach out to young and old people alike to raise funds and awareness about the global trade in rhino horn and make them really feel emotionally connected to what’s happening to our rhino population,' he explains.
Our books are completely open, and other than covering costs, every cent we make is for the rhino.
The team, which in addition to Gareth consists of Lauren Saad, Storm Wolmarans, Meka Ravenhill, Gregory Anderson, Jacqui Sive, Ken Whyte and Tami Arthur, believes that this public awareness will help put pressure on local and international authorities, who it feels need to take control of the poaching situation that affects its community, as well as the rest of South Africa. 'There are over 50-million people in South Africa, with somewhere in the region of just over 20 000 defenceless rhinos. How can we sit by and let them get killed on our watch?'
Organising a 2-day event like this is not an easy task, as Gareth, who is a well-known wildlife tattoo artist, admits: 'We’re not professional event organisers. We’ve had a lot of help and we're looking for more, especially with regard to portable ablutions and crowd barriers, as these costs are extremely high for a non-profit organisation like Rocking for Rhinos.'
While inexperience has presented the team with a steep learning curve at times, it has also worked to its advantage, because it’s immediately apparent from talking to Gareth and his team that their motivation comes straight from their hearts – you can’t help but want to support them.
Says Meka: 'The opportunity to be a part of an organisation of young adults who have the same vision as me – conserve, preserve and protect – has been life changing. I never want to hear my son ask, ‘Mum, do you remember seeing a real, live rhino?"'
Tami adds, 'Every day I hear new stories and see photos of our rhinos being slaughtered. It makes me cry! It's time to stop complaining and start taking action!'
Each member of the team is truly invested in the Lowveld. While most of them have full-time jobs, they feel that raising awareness of and funds for local anti-poaching activities is a moral obligation. There is no agenda, other than to make a difference, and that’s both humbling and refreshing. 'Our books are completely open,' confirms Gareth, 'and other than covering costs, every cent we make is for the rhino.'
Limpopo is 1 of the hardest-hit provinces when it comes to rhino poaching. That’s why the festival organisers wanted to have the concert in their community. 'We want people who attend the event get a feel for the amazing nature and wildlife in an area that is currently being ravaged by poaching,' says Storm.
'The money we raise will be used to buy equipment for Hoedspruit’s local anti-poaching heroes from Quemic, Pro Track and Plaaswag,' adds Jacqui. 'These are the guys we see at the shops and drink with at the local pub. Our kids go to school with their kids. These are also the guys who, day after day, night after night, patrol the bush, often facing sophisticated, well-armed and sometimes desperate poaching teams.'
The festival is planned to coincide with World Rhino Day and Heritage Day, and takes place on 22 and 23 September 2012. It will be a 2-day event, held at Franklyn Park (see its website for how to get there). Festival-goers and their families can camp at the venue, and craft and numerous other stalls, including food and drink outlets, will be situated on the grounds.
Festival tickets are available through TicketBreak.
- Day pass @ R175
- Early Bird (first release, limited tickets): Full weekend pass including camping @ R350
- Full weekend pass including camping R500
- VIP @ R1 000
It is a family-friendly event and kids under 12 can join their families for free.
The line-up will consist of South African musicians, artists, celebrities, conservationists and performers. 'We’re excited about and grateful for the bands that have committed to perform at the festival for free, and for the businesses that have come on board to help make it happen,' says Gareth.
Confirmed bands, who Gareth reiterates are giving freely of their talents and time to show their support in the fight against rhino poaching, include:
- 2nd Life
- Agro (sponsored by Audiosure)
- Blue Bird Theory
- Cold Hand Chemistry
- Facing the Gallows
- ... Gadabout
- If 6 was 9
- Nova Rise
- Poverty of Ideals
- Son of a 1000
- South of Nine
- The Sunday Punchers
- Zoey's Fallacy
- Cunning Brad
- Evolver One (sponsored by Audiosure)
- Man As Machine
- Rythmic Hearts
- Tamla Kahn
- 4 Seasons
- Bombs And Issues
- Poverty Of Ideals
- Rugsteek Die Waarheid
- Aiming At Shadows
- Reason Machine
- Silver Planet
- Them bandits
'We’d also like to thank those who are sponsoring accommodation for the bands, like Nobene Lodge, Amafu Forest Lodge, Shikwari Game Reserve, River Lodge, Thornhill Safari Lodge, Moholoholo Forest Camp and Mareipskop View Chalets.'
Other generous sponsors include Trucking for Rhinos, made up of the Delta Matreta Group, Reinhardt Transport and Heyman's Kole; Remax Wildlife Properties; Coca-Cola Fortune; Africa Inscribed Private Travel; Spar Lowveld; Monster Energy; and South African Breweries.