Bridgestone Trio Skydives for Rhinos
information supplied by: Bridgestone South Africa
07 August 2012
With no let-up in the rate of rhinoceros poaching in South Africa, the Africa Conservation Trust (ACT) devised up its “Skydive for Rhinos” initiative in 2011 to raise money to combat the slaughter of these magnificent animals. Skydive for Rhinos 2011 saw 40 jumpers fling themselves from aeroplanes, raising over half a million Rand. But for 2012, ACT wanted to take the project to an entirely new level, and it was decided to set the bar at R10 million by getting at least 448 people to jump: one for each rhino poached in 2011.
With Bridgestone's ongoing involvement with conservation matters, including the fascinating roadkill surveys which are now in their second year, the Skydive for Rhinos project was tailor-made. ACT requires each jumper to raise at least R5000 in sponsorship, all of which goes to ACT for its anti-poaching operations after the R1600 jump fee has been deducted. Bridgestone's contribution saw employees Maruschka Becker, Daniel Barbosa and Chantel Baxter, who spearheaded the initiative, volunteer to strap on parachutes and fling themselves into the sky in the name of rhino conservation. Money for their jumps was raised at a BMW Club Track day sponsored by Bridgestone. Apart from fundraising via entrance fees, each spectator who went for a 'hot lap' in one of the Bridgestone BMWs donated R20 to the cause.
Once over the hurdle of raising sponsorship, the trio found themselves at the Rustenburg Skydiving Club on the morning of 29 July as Skydive for Rhinos 2012 kicked off officially before moving on to KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, and the Western Cape. After the obligatory safety briefings, they boarded the jump plane. It was a special experience for Maruschka – it was her very first flight in an aeroplane, and it ended at 10 000 feet when she and her colleagues jumped from the plane, safely attached to their tandem masters who controlled the jump and deployed the parachute at the right time. After floating to a safe landing, Baxter was ecstatic. “It was amazing! Thanks to the Africa Conservation Trust that made this possible for us, and thanks to the Rustenburg Skydiving Club that brought us back in one piece,” she enthused.
The money collected by Skydive for Rhinos 2012 will be used for specific requirements like training for Anti-Poaching Unit members, as well as their operational needs, like sleeping bags and GPS trackers. The funds will also assist in aerial surveillance, as well as education initiatives in communities which live on the fringes of rhino populations.
More information is available on http://www.skydive4rhinos.org including the schedule of events and contact information for those wishing to contribute or take a jump for conservation.
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