Wednesday 24th February 2016 saw a prestigious event take place at London's Carpenters' Hall as Sir Gavyn Arthur hosted 'An Evening With Helping Rhinos'.
The reception was the brainchild of Sir Gavyn himself and was designed to help UK charity Helping Rhinos raise awareness of the poaching crisis threatening the rhino with extinction within our lifetime. We were delighted to welcome so many people to Carpenters' Hall, including Lord Frederick Windsor, HRH Princess Katarina of Serbia and Yugoslavia and HSH Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg plus many, many other distinguished guests.
After a short reception, Sir Gavyn made an introduction to the evening before welcoming Simon Jones, Founder and Chairman of Helping Rhinos onto the stage. Simon gave an insight into the world of the rhino today and how an unprecedented increase in poaching over the last 8 years, has left the species clinging to survival. We are still losing an average of more than 3 rhinos a day to the hands of the poachers. Simon also told the story of Thandi, the rhino from Kariega who miraculously survived a poaching attack in March 2012.
Simon was followed to the stage by two members of South Africa's all female anti-poaching unit, the Black Mambas, who gave an insight into the day to day life operating in one of the areas worst hit by rhino poachers. It is the first time any member of the black Mambas have visited the UK.
Siphiwe Sithole and Felicia Mogakane were joined on stage by legendary cycling commentator and Helping Rhinos Patron, Phil Liggett. Phil chatted to Felicia and Siphiwe and asked them about the challenges of being a Black Mamba, the daily threats they endure and the heartache from being away from their family for weeks at a time.
Simon returned to announce that the Black Mambas had proudly been awarded the inaugural Helping Rhinos Innovation in Conservation Award for 2016. Lord Frederick Windsor and HRH Princess Katarina of Serbia and Yugoslavia presented Siphiwe and Felicia with the award.
Simon then formally launched a new initiative from Helping Rhinos designed to protect land for wildlife, forever - Protection in Perpetuity. In partnership with landowners Helping Rhinos will create special Wildlife Conservation Sites across Africa.
Through private and public investment in our new currency, Wildlife PiPs, Helping Rhinos will create a fund for each site that will ensure a sustainable investment in the habitat required to protect rhinos and other endangered species.
Next to speak to our guests was Richard Vigne, CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Richard spoke about how Ol Pejeta is East Africa's largest black rhino sanctuary and also home to the last three northern white rhinos on the planet. Richard also discussed the plans for expansion for Ol Pejeta and how proud the Conservancy is to be one of Helping Rhinos' founder Wildlife Conservation Sites.
Following the presentations, guests enjoyed a drinks reception and having the opportunity to chat to Siphiwe, Felicia, Richard and Simon about the work each of their organisations carry out and how it makes a difference in the fight to save the rhino.
Also at the reception our guests had the opportunity to view some impressive artwork on display by Helping Rhinos supporter Tom Middleton Art. Tom has very kindly agreed to make a donation to the charity from every piece sold.
Our guests were also treated to the first screening of a new Helping Rhinos Documentary on the Black Mambas, which can be seen at the bottom of this page.
We would like to thank our Headline Sponsor RACS Group for their amazing support, not in only sponsoring the evening, but also the trip to the UK of the Black Mambas. Thanks also to Ol Pejeta Conservancy for the co-sponsorship of the evening at Carpenters' Hall.
Below is a selection photographs from the evening. If you were one of our guests that came along, we hope you enjoy reliving the evening as much as did.
Please click on the photo to view a larger image.
Thank you to Nigel Marven, Mike Huthinson and Anneka Svenska for donating their time and equipment to make this film.