Micah van Schalkwyk skydives to save endangered rhino from poaching, wildlife trafficking, illegal trade, fundraising.
[When this was originally posted we weren’t aware of the huge issue that was about to immerge surrounding the legalization of trading rhino horn. Some rhino advocates and fundraisers are pro trade, while others, including organizations like Nikela, remain opposed to such.]
Micah van Schalkwyk is an amazing young women who though deathly afraid of skydiving, does it anyway to raise funds to stop rhino poaching. Here is her story…
Five Skydives for Rhino
I will never forget the day one of my dearest friends (and supervisor at the African Conservation Trust) asked me if I wanted to skydive to raise money for rhinos. My initial answer went something along the lines of, “Absolutely not, you must be mad!”. However, the combination of ‘peer pressure’ and the horrific images of slaughtered rhino that kept inundating our social media changed my mind. Make no mistake though – I was still terrified!
Three months later, on a misty morning at Durban Skydive Centre, 40 of us took this giant leap of faith. In those three months we had managed to raise R500 000 in support. That morning was one of the best of my life: I was surrounded by people who were as passionately concerned for the survival of this iconic species as I was, and the energy and camaraderie of the day was incredible.
The tandem skydive was exhilarating! I screamed myself hoarse through 30 seconds of free-fall at 220km/h but once the parachute opened and we started gliding down to earth, my ears were filled with an almost divine silence. Needless to say, I can’t wait to do it again!
This year, we’re raising the bar and taking the campaign national. Skydive for Rhinos 2012 aims to raise R10million for rhino conservation. The core of the campaign aims to see at least 448 people (one for every rhino killed in 2011) tandem skydive at five drop-zones across South Africa. Other fundraising aspects include: cause marketing and business partnerships, EISH! T-shirt sales, sports activities and social media.
This massive, and sometimes rather intimidating goal, is the result of the dire need for funding and support for rhino anti-poaching work in South Africa. I am proud to live in a country so abundant in its wildlife and wilderness areas. I have always loved the bush – the stillness; the buzz of unseen life before sunset; the magnificence of its creatures. It is harsh and unforgiving yet harmonious and so at peace: unlike life in the city. So it is heart-breaking when part of your national identity is so brutally eradicated at the rate of one rhino every 14 hours.
As I write this, under a full African moon (or ‘poacher’s moon’ as it is now being referred to) I think of every rhino – so mighty, yet so powerless. I think of all the men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting this species. And I am reminded of why I do what I do…
I strongly believe that Africa’s spirit lies in its people and its wilderness. I have seen the unrelenting attitude of the guys on the ground, heard the upsurge of concern from the public and have felt the whisper of something greater blowing in the night breeze. We cannot let our spirit die.
I urge every person who reads this to join the campaign. I am your Skydive for Rhinos Jumper Liaison and am here to assist all ‘Rhino Skydivers’ in raising their sponsorship and making the most of the experience.
My personal goal is to skydive five times this year and raise at least R25 000. Please visit my Activist profile on GivenGain to sponsor me; your support is most appreciated:
Please read the Skydive for Rhinos’ ‘On the Front Line’ story here.