Locals set up a business and improve their livelihood
Each product sold contributes to protecting rhinos
Local communities and wildlife living together
A 3.00am wake up is required to get to Hoedspruit Market, some 80kms south of Phalaborwa, where Silvia and Collins have a small property from where they work, to be in time to secure a prime place at the once per month Farmers’ Market. Arrive there after 6.00am (for an 8.00am opening to the public), and you will be too late – all the prime spots will be gone!
The will and energy to make the long journey to sell their excellent, unique items far outweighs the difficulty of travelling without their own transport. Hitch hiking with boxes and bags full of hand made, beautifully crafted products, at 4.00am, not knowing if a lift will be forthcoming, is no mean feat, but it is worth all the effort. This is how it is for Silvia and Collins most months of the year, winter and summer. Having arrived, and secured their pitch, work begins - setting up the gazebo, table, and all the items, carefully organised, before the public from many, many miles around arrive. This is a very special market!
Helping Rhinos Trustee, Trish (who lives on the local wildlife reserve, Grietjie PNR) arranged a pick on this particular morning, Saturday, 2nd December. We arrived at the market at 5.45am. Things were already in full swing – the stand holders had already taken the prime spots - 5.45 was already late! But today we were lucky. Christopher a friend who also has a stall had got there before us, and had secured an excellent pitch for this important day in the year – the Christmas Market.
It’s been a very busy day, and hot. The market is set in a field owned by the Khaya Ndlovu (Zulu for ‘the place of elephant’) Game Reserve (part of the Leadwood Estate) just a few kilometres from Hoedspruit itself. The market is busy and lively, it’s come on fantastically well since it started earlier this year.
Many friends to speak to, contacts to be made, and public to woo. By 1.00pm, the close of the day, we deemed it had been a big success with perhaps another couple of outlets in the offing. It’s tough to find suitable places to sell products like these, and delivery always proves to be a problem if hitch hiking is the only option at the moment.
As well as providing a living for Silvia and Collins, JOEN also helps to protect the local wildlife. Helping Rhinos receive a percentage from every sale made. Silvia and Collins are very aware of the poaching crises still rampaging in this part of Africa.
Local communities in this area live close to game reserves that have rhinos, still living wild. They are heavily protected by the Black Mamba all female anti-poaching units, along with a variety of other anti-poaching strategies. Silvia and Collins are fully aware of how easy it is to recruit locals to carry the guns and track inside the reserves to poach for more money than they can make by working a local job – but big money to them is nothing like the price that the horn sells for in the overseas markets, several hundred of thousands of pounds/dollars per horn.
Much of the poached rhino horn finds its way to Asia, but a staggeringly dreadful statistic has emerged - USA is believed to be the third highest user of rhino horn in the world. This must change!
Silvia and Collins are convinced that the demand must be stopped. They believe that reducing the demand will soon filter back to make poaching a worthless enterprise. Wise words from wise people who live in the community and understand the intricacies of African community life. They understand the mechanisms that are at play that stimulate poaching, and will continue to stimulate it if the demand is there.
They know it is difficult to change the minds of the poachers, whose families benefit from the proceeds of their labours. If communities could positively benefit from living alongside wildlife it is more likely to make a difference, think Silvia and Collins.
We are proud support Silvia and Collins by selling the JOEN products that allows them to make their own living, without resorting to other means. In turn, Silvia and Collins are proud to help us save the iconic rhinos in the wild for more people to appreciate and enjoy.
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