Using a New “Affordable Philanthropy” Approach to Save the Rhino

Meet the two women behind a revolutionary new approach to saving the rhino. Over and Above Africa has a simple mission: raising funds using micro-financing to enable all animal lovers across the globe to unite in preventing Africa’s most vulnerable animals from becoming extinct, through education & in funding effective solutions.

Founder and CEO, Kerry David, in Ghana whilst building an orphanage. She said of her experience, “Meeting the children and working with the kind people in Ghana will remain a highlight of my life.”

What’s your story?

Jennifer: I’m Executive Director of Over and Above Africa. My whole life I have loved animals — particularly elephants. As I began learning more about poaching crisis with regard to elephants, I began to learn more about rhinos as well. Several years ago I first learned about the affect of the poaching crisis on rhinos through the story of Thandi and Themba, who were brutally attacked at Kariega Game Reserve. I could not get their story out of my head for quite some time. This is when I decided that I needed to dedicate time to spreading awareness of what was happening. I couldn’t sit back and do nothing any longer.

Kerry: I’m a filmmaker and philanthropist. I Founded Over and Above Africa when I learned of the poaching crisis in 2015 and thought, how is it that this isn’t a worldwide outrage? 100 elephants are killed every day and a rhino is killed every 6 hours — it was horrific to me, I had to act. I first fell in love with rhinos as a young girl when a family friend gave me a beautifully illustrated book on dinosaurs and I became obsessed with the triceratops! From that came a natural transfer to living versions — the rhino — I think they are just the most unique and awesome sight to behold in the wild. Jen and I run Over and Above Africa to protect all endangered animals — but with rhinos being so rare, and in some cases, already extinct (Northern White Rhinos for instance, except for Sudan and his two female companions) We have an opportunity to turn this tragic situation around — it will take a global community to do it, but that’s what we have in www.OverAndAboveAfrica.com

After understanding about the plight of African animals, Kerry (right) and Jennifer (left) have devoted their time to preventing the extinction of these wondrous animals.

The hardest thing

Jennifer: I think from my perspective, the hardest thing is to make people connect with something that is so far away. A lot of people read about it and think its horrible — but getting them to act is sometimes difficult. Sometimes I think the size of the problem seems hopeless and overwhelming to people.

Kerry: I find that people don’t believe us when we say that they will be extinct in less than 9 years. It seems inconceivable and in harnessing a community to join our site and give strength to our cause — we must convince them that their support is needed now, and that the longer we wait, the more difficult the task in protecting them from extinction.

Your most memorable experience

Kerry: I was recently in South Africa on an anti-poaching / research trip and we were invited out to hike with the Zulu Anti-Poaching Unit on foot patrol, to log their endangered black rhino. They do this every day because the reserve is so large, they need to be sure the animals are safe from poachers. We followed the trail for one black rhino for 6km and as we arrived at the top of the hill, our head ranger said “There is good news and bad news. The good news is you will see two black rhino — a male and his female — the bad news is that the black rhino is very aggressive — and more so when he is protecting his mate! They may be watching us now as they are nearby” — I asked what they would do if they saw us and what should we do — and our ranger said “Run very fast and climb a tree!”

Mother and baby. Image: Jennifer Pfister

At the 7km mark, we decided that it would be OK if we didn’t actually lay eyes on the 2 black rhino it was good enough that we had come this close! We then drove to the other side of the game reserve where a lone black rhino was grazing on the plains — he looked very sad all alone — it made me even more determined to prevent their extinction in any way I could.

The biggest reward

Jennifer: The biggest reward for me is when I meet someone that says “ I had no idea this was happening!!! What can I do???” When I see people become inspired to take action its very rewarding because every single person who donates, or shares information about this crisis is important.

Kerry: We recently raised funds for Care For Wild, a wonderful Rhino Orphanage and Sanctuary in South Africa. The biggest reward was that our funding came at exactly the right time for them because they had just rescued a tiny rhino orphan whose mother had been poached only 3 days earlier — and he will need a lot of care and nurturing to survive which can get expensive. Raising funds through our micro-financing concept — basically asking a LOT of people, for a SMALL amount of donations is proving really effective — because we bring awareness over the problems facing rhino but we do it at a price most people are willing to bare — we call it #AffordablePhilanthropy

We provide video content of each completed project our members fund to provide members with full transparency so that they can see exactly where their money goes.

Orphaned baby rhino Zac enjoying a roll around in his mud bath at Care for Wild Africa. Over and Above’s micro-financing concept provides funds for organisations that enable rhinos, like orphan Zach, to have a future in this world. Video: Kerry David

The changes we must see if poaching is to decrease

Jennifer: I think that it must come from international governments all the way down every day citizens around the globe. However, we cannot underestimate the power of every day citizens, and that is the focus of our platform — giving everyday people who feel inspired to give an avenue to do so that is affordable and also fully transparent.

Kerry: Poaching is such a complex issue. Poverty in the region allows it, greed drives it. I believe there is no one silver bullet to end poaching unfortunately, it’s a network of initiatives applied in conjunction with each other that will ultimately end it.

They include, global outrage from ordinary people like us to bring awareness to the issue, game reserves & parks having well trained rangers who are equipped to combat the poachers when they come upon them, Asian & African governments cracking down on the criminals who slaughter the animals and smuggle them across borders — jail time and more severe fines — I would like to see owners of rhino horns and tusks fined in the hundreds of thousands of dollars — because governments would want that kind of income, and the buyers can clearly afford it! That would definitely help ebb the demand.

It’s well-trained dog teams and better communication from park to park when they have intel on poachers in the region. It means education for the generations under us — that can bring this information into their families — about the truth of what a rhino horn actually can and can’t do medicinally. As we know, rhino horns have zero medicinal value — their horns are made of keratin, the same as our finger and toe-nails and wont cure cancer, or erectile dysfunction!

For us, we would like a global community to join Over and Above Africa as we pool our member subscriptions together — donate to effective initiatives who are working to fight poaching and human/animal conflict — and then watch the films we make of their funds in use — full transparency and a greater connection to their donation. Together, we still have time to turn it around!

You can choose today whether these animals remain safely on our planet as they have for centuries, or whether they succumb to this mass scale poaching epidemic. We can effectively act by harnessing our collective, global kindness — and demanding that this crisis stop.
In 2017, Over and Above Africa raised funds to buy “Boots-for-Rangers” at Nambiti in the Kwa-Zulu-Natal region of South Africa. Once the boots were purchased, they were presented to the rangers at a ceremony on Nambiti lands and they were interviewed afterwards about how it felt knowing the rest of the world cared about their courage and their sacrifice for these endangered species…. this short film is the result. Video: Kerry David

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