09 September 2013 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

Rocking for Rhinos 2013

Helicopter flips and performances by LCNVL and Crash Car Burn are just some of the attractions at the Rocking for Rhinos 2013 festival. At the end of the day, though, it’s all about raising funds for rhinos – and getting hands-on.

The energy of the team behind Rocking for Rhinos is contagious

'To be sitting there, involved in practically protecting a rhino by infusing its horn, that’s what it’s all about,' explains Jacqui Sive, marketing manager for Rocking for Rhinos (R4R), a music festival in Hoedspruit in Limpopo province.

Working with Lorinda Hern and the Rhino Rescue Project, the horn infusion Jacqui assisted with was one of six that took place recently with the support of the Olifants River Game Reserve and R4R. It was also the brand’s first hands-on expression of its support for Rhino Rescue’s 'horns on' project, which renders rhino horns useless for end-users and poachers by infusing them with indigestible and undetectable poison dye.

We’re in it for the rhinos, and the rhinos alone.

R4R is one of many organisations in South Africa (there are literally hundreds) that have adopted the plight of these mammals, which have come to represent the gravity of the threats that face many of southern Africa’s wild animals – including lions, elephants, wild dogs, vultures and other species.

It’s easy to be cynical about the motives of some of these organisations and sceptical of their chances for success, but this non-profit organisation is a little different, suggests Jacqui.

A rhino horn being infused with indigestible and undetectable poison

For a start, R4R is based in one of the areas that is most affected by poaching. 'I personally had a rhino poaching incident on the farm I live on,' says Jacqui. Says the organisation's CEO, Gareth Putter, referencing the nearly 600 rhino poached in South Africa so far this year: 'These are our rhino, in our community, so we know what’s happening to them and we can’t ignore it.'

Secondly, R4R's books are completely open to the public, and 80% of the funds R4R raises goes directly to its projects. 'We’re in it for the rhinos, and the rhinos alone,' says Jacqui.

Thirdly, R4R is like the scrappy little fighter that you just can’t ignore. Two years after coming up with the R4R concept, those involved are still in the game and working to a long-term plan, so 'Oppikopi [a popular South African music festival] better watch out', jokes Jacqui, adding that 'it’s been good for us to have to prove ourselves from the bottom up. I think there are some people who thought we wouldn’t still be around in 2013, but here we are.'

Gareth Putter, CEO of Rocking for Rhinos, assisting with a horn infusion

Jacqui's and the R4R team's candour, determination and enthusiasm have been contagious, and several local businesses in Hoedspruit have chipped in this year to help ensure the festival is a success. 'We’re so grateful for the local support we’ve got from businesses in Hoedspruit, like Lowveld Camp and Gas and almost all of the Hoedspruit restaurants, which have supported the "Rocking for Rhinos Fridays" initiative.' The event's main sponsors this year are Texas-based Bisbee's Fish & Wildlife Conservation Fund, Trucking for Rhinos, Coca-Cola and SAB.

'Our aim with the festival and our other fundraising efforts is to make the move from raising awareness to putting money into the hands that need it, a vision that Bisbee's and our other sponsors share,' says Jacqui. Money raised will be used to buy equipment for Hoedspruit’s local anti-poaching heroes from Protrack and to support the 'horns on' project to carry out more horn infusions in the area.

While inexperience may have presented the team with a steep learning curve at last year’s festival, 'we’ve ironed out the kinks', says Jacqui, who is looking forward to a weekend of music and fun with like-minded people later in September. The festival is planned to coincide with World Rhino Day and Heritage Day, and will take place on 21 and 22 September 2013. It will again be held at Franklyn Park. 

Some members of the Rocking for Rhinos team: Kim Heyink, Jacqui Sive, Ken Whyte and Storm Wolmarans

'This year the festival will host big-name bands such as LCNVL and Crash Car Burn, along with DJs. There will be helicopter flips, beer stations, vendors and activities for all,' says Jacqui, who lauds the many great bands that have committed to perform at the festival for free. 'And I can’t wait to hear Wambüseun, an Afrikaans rapper from Namibia, as well as Rasta Riddems and Cutting Jade,' she says.

Tickets are available online at plankton.mobi. For more information, call +27 (0)15 793 1818 or email Jacqui at jacquisive@rockingforrhinos.org. You can also buy tickets through the R4R Facebook page. R250 gets you ta full weekend pass for the festival.

Date: 21 and 22 September 2013

All images courtesy Ken Whyte and Meka Ravenhill

Category: Events

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