When Jules Murray recently addressed the World Youth Rhino Summit, the most amazing thing was not the R160, 000 she has raised to date for rhino conservation. The most amazing thing is that Jules was just 13 years old!
This South African-born young lady has been living in Hong Kong for over nine years and recently returned to South Africa, attending DSG School in Grahamstown. Jules’ Save the Rhino journey started after hearing about the plight of the rhino, and deciding to do what she could to make a difference. So, on her 11th birthday, Jules skipped the traditional birthday party and instead asked her friends to join her in painting Save the Rhino pictures, which were auctioned, raising R30, 000.
Jules donated the money to the Chipembere Rhino Foundation (CRF), a local NGO dedicated to protecting and preserving the diminishing number of rhino in South Africa. CRF bought three radio tracking collars for rhinos in the Eastern Cape reserves. When Jules and her family later visited South Africa, the CRF team invited Jules to join them in the helicopter and to help collar the rhino.
“The day had a huge impact on me. To be up close, and to see and touch these gentle giants was a truly humbling experience,” says Jules. “Meeting the CRF team was so inspiring; I knew I had to carry on doing what I could to raise money and awareness to save these beautiful creatures. So I started the JuMu Rhino Fund, determined to raise more money.”
Jules then started selling rhino trinkets made by African children’s charities to generous Hong Kongers, raising another R30, 000. A second rhino party in Hong Kong, at which every person painted their own ceramic rhino, also raised another R30, 000.
Soon Jules was asked to talk about saving the rhino at various schools in Hong Kong, handing out copies of the Mandarin version of the book, Bongi’s Quest, which tells the story of a young rhino who survived the horrors of poaching. “We even managed to get a few cars in Hong Kong wearing a Rhinose!” says Jules, who has been featured on the front page of the kid’s section of the South China Morning Post, the largest daily newspaper in Hong Kong, in Nat Geo for Kids and the Envirokids magazine, as well as on radio and on South Africa’s conservation TV show, 50/50.
Jules’ latest project is selling rhino wristbands at 12 schools in the Eastern Cape, while her friends in America and Australia are also selling wristbands and raising awareness at their schools.
All the funds raised have been used by CRF to fund rhino collars, cover veterinarian and helicopter costs, and equipping two rangers, who guard the rhinos that were moved from South Africa to Botswana 24/7. CRF also invested in Dixie, who is training as a human scent tracker dog to track down poachers.
“I am so grateful to the many people around the world have been very generous in helping me to raise awareness and funds to make a real difference in saving our rhino. I hope I can inspire others to do something to make a difference too,” says Jules. “Wherever we live, young people need to actively participate in determining the future of the world’s shrinking wilderness areas. We must be the responsible generation, the protectors and preservers of the planet’s threatened fauna and flora. Let’s educate as many people as possible, so that the animals, the plants, the beautiful wilderness areas are left for the next generations to appreciate and enjoy one day!”
“We thank Jules and all those who have supported her for the incredible contribution to the conservation of the magnificent rhino species. Such passion and commitment is inspiring and Jules’ contribution reminds us that everyone of us can make a difference!” says Brent Cook, founder of the Chipembere Rhino Foundation. “Every step of the way and saving one rhino at a time, your donations and support count and make a difference on the ground as, together, we save these iconic animals for future generations to enjoy!”