I often have people say to me “But what can one person achieve” or “What can I realistically do, I am only one person”. Well this weekend, I can give you two fantastic examples of The Power of One.
Nicholas Duncan, Co-Founder and President of the SAVE African Rhino Foundation
A couple of days ago, on the 10th June, The SAVE African Rhino Foundation celebrated 30 years of dedication to rhino conservation. I am sure people won’t realize that SARF is the world’s biggest NGO donor to Zimbabwe rhino conservation. Similarly, I am sure that people won’t know that SARF is the second oldest specialist rhino conservation NGO, after Save The Rhino Trust in Namibia and the 4th largest rhino dedicated charity in the world. Not bad, given the organization is 100% volunteer run!
Nicholas, a passionate animal lover and successful entrepreneur was in his early 40s when he decided he wanted to do something to help tackle the Rhino Poaching Wars of the 1970s and 1980s.
Park rangers in Zimbabwe needed equipment, so Nicholas and the original committee set about getting them what they needed. I love these photographs from 1988, with Nicholas looking like the quintessential Englishman (he originates from the UK), in a navy blue suit, giving the first donation from the foundation, a red Landrover together with replacement tyres and parts.
Nicholas, with the support of subsequent SARF committee members, has donated millions of dollars of equipment over the years, pays rangers wages, helps build ranger accommodation, covers the costs of their training and much, much more. He works every day to support the people and organisations on the ground get what they need to protect rhinos from the poachers, and also to protect themselves in the dangerous environment they work in.
In recent years, one top-ranking official in the National Parks of Zimbabwe said “If it were not for the SAVE African Rhino Foundation, the black rhinoceros would be extinct in Zimbabwe by now.”
If it wasn’t for Nicholas Duncan, maybe we would need to reintroduce rhinos back to Zimbabwe in the same way as they have been reintroduced to Rwanda recently?
Nicholas and SARF work in a very real and pragmatic way, they test new ideas, they take risks, they are nimble in the way that many large conservation NGOs are not. An amazing and inspirational example of what can be achieved when one person takes tenacious action and is determined to make a difference.
Now I have only known Nicholas since 2012 and while you don’t see him in a suit any more (he looks far more relaxed), I have been inspired by his daily action in support of rhinos and the people who put their lives on the line everyday to protect them.
Donalea Patman OAM, Founder, For the Love of Wildlife
Please note the OAM, because as of today and the Queen’s Honour’s List, Donalea has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for services to animal welfare. Donalea, and FLOW (also 100% volunteer run), was the primary driver of the successful campaign to ban the importation of lion trophies and parts into Australia.
Her tireless work to inform the Federal Government about the canned hunting industry and its cub petting supply chain resonated with the Greg Hunt so much that he became the Patron of For the Love of Wildlife.
On the FLOW website, he states:
You meet very few people as committed to nature as Donalea. Though she in no way does the work for the recognition, it is fantastic that her dedication has been acknowledged in this year’s Queen’s Honour’s List.
Donalea daily action continues, as she is now the primary driver of the #NoDomesticTrade Australia project providing the Federal Government the evidence to show a domestic ban on the sale of rhino horn and elephant ivory, no matter the age, is needed in Australia.
BTB is collaborating with Donalea on this, given the concerns outlined in a 2015 Blog: Reckless Australian Auction Rooms and Weak Domestic Wildlife Laws May Contribute to Worldwide Rhino Slaughter
In future, when people ask me “But what can one person achieve” or “What can I realistically do, I am only one person” I will point them to this blog. I will highlight Nicholas Duncan, the man who has been credited with saving the black rhinoceros from extinction in Zimbabwe and Donalea Patman OAM, the woman who got the Australian government to take notice of a distant issue, see that they had a part to play and, as a result, take action by banning the importation of lion trophies and parts into Australia.
As many of you know I have real concerns about the large conservation sector. With Nicholas and Donalea, I find them courageous and tenacious and I feel very privileged to have met them. Our wonderful wildlife needs more Nicholas Duncans and Donalea Patmans. Here’s to the Power of One!
These are the views of the author: Dr. Lynn Johnson, Founder, Breaking the Brand and Nature Needs More