Every year on 16 November, our Chipembere Rhino Foundation team, and the guides and guests at Amakhala Game Reserve, gather at ‘’God’s Window’’ for a moment of solemn silence around the Rhino Remembrance Memorial. This memorial bears the names of Chippy, Isipho and Geza – to pay tribute and to remind us of these three magnificent Rhinos, as well as the 7,000 other Rhinos lost in South Africa since 2010, and renew our commitment to ensure the survival of this iconic species for generations to come.
On the fateful night of 16 November 2010, two White Rhino bulls on Amakhala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape were tragically lost to the brutality of poaching, which has now become a full-blown epidemic in South Africa.
‘Chippy’, as he was affectionately known as because of the ‘chip’ in his horn, was a healthy breeding bull. Isipho – meaning ‘gift’ in Xhosa – was only 5 years old and would have taken over from Chippy as the breeding bull of the rhino conservation project on the Reserve. Just a few months later, Geza – meaning ‘the naughty one’ in Xhosa – died from his wounds after poachers barbarically cut off both his horns.
After witnessing the senseless slaughter of their two Rhino breeding bulls, Chippy and Isipho, Brent and Chantelle Cook, the owners of HillsNek Safari Camp at Amakhala Game Reserve decided to step up their conservation efforts. Along with their business partners, Paul and Debbie Naudé and Derek Cook, they established the Chipembere Rhino Foundation (CRF) as a local registered non-profit and public benefit organisation to protect and preserve the diminishing number of Rhino in Southern Africa. After Geza was poached, renowned wildlife veterinarian, Dr William Fowlds joined the CRF team as a trustee.
“This incredibly emotional, heart-breaking and tragic event was the catalyst to us structuring our conservation efforts into one organisation that could assist with the protection and preservation of rhino on the ground, where it counts,” says Brent Cook, founder of CRF.
Aptly named ‘Chipembere’, which means ‘white rhinoceros’ in Shona and commemorates Chippy, the Foundation raises funds and provides training and equipment that help reserves protect their wildlife.
CRF specialises in sourcing, testing and funding technology for effective monitoring of Rhino; funding K9 handlers and their tracking and apprehension dogs; providing anti-poaching teams with vital equipment and funding equipment needed to translocate Rhino across Southern Africa to safer havens.
With the assistance of an amazing team of volunteers, as well as partnerships with Rhino custodians and other like-minded NGOs, and the support from donors, the Foundation has made a significant contribution to the efforts to protect and preserve our Rhinos.
The unveiling of the new Rhino Remembrance Memorial:
Video Credit: Ben Wallace
The legacy lives on. Last year, a precious new rhino calf named ‘Schofe’ was born to one of Amakhala’s rhino, Themba. This heart-warming event was especially emotional as Schofe is Chippy’s grandson and the second generation of rhinos that are now protected by a well-trained and equipped anti-poaching team. Schofe was named after the well-known UK presenter of This Morning Show – a British daytime television programme that is broadcast on ITV – Phillip Schofield. Read the full story HERE.
“Chippy, Isipho and Geza – and the 7,000 other rhino South Africa has lost since 2010 – we salute you. You are gone, but never forgotten. In your memory, we continue the fight to save your species!” says Cook. “Collectively, all our efforts make a difference. Thank you to the rangers and guests who participated in this event. Your part in creating awareness contributes to winning the war against poaching, as we recommit on this day to our mission: Saving Rhino One at a Time!”