Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has renewed its support of the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative by extending the sponsorship of six new Amarok double cabs for another year.
The Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative is managed by Wilderness Foundation Africa, and the partnership with Volkswagen started in 2011. The six Amaroks will be deployed for proactive rhino protection and anti-poaching activities in hot-spot areas across the country.
Thomas Schaefer, Chairman and Managing Director: Volkswagen Group South Africa, said: “Volkswagen is committed in helping the Wilderness Foundation through its Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative to protect and conserve the endangered rhino population. The renewal of the vehicle sponsorship reaffirms our pledge to assist environmental conscious organisations that are making a difference towards the sustainability of the endangered species in our country.”
Volkswagen’s relationship with the Wilderness Foundation Africa dates back to 1985 when its founding member, the late Dr. Ian Player invited the former Managing Director of Volkswagen, Peter Searle, and David Ogilvy, founder of what would become advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, to visit Umfolozi Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
“The Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative is an extension of our long-standing relationship with Volkswagen that was started by Dr. Player over three decades ago. This unwavering partnership has helped our organisation to establish one of the most successful youth vocational training centres in the country, Umzi Wethu. Here we offer youth from disadvantaged communities around Nelson Mandela Metro one-year courses in hospitality and eco-tourism. The centre has consistently achieved a job placement rate over 90%,” said Andrew Muir, Chief Executive Officer: Wilderness Foundation Africa.
The Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative is concerned with maintaining populations of free-ranging rhino within state and privately managed conservation areas. It supports conservation agencies and organised private game reserves to protect their rhino populations as part of functioning natural ecosystems. The campaign also aims to focus the attention of politicians and decision makers, and to encourage them to apply pressure both nationally and abroad to address the issue of the illegal trade in rhino horn and other wildlife products.
“The deployment of Amaroks in hot spot areas has immensely improved our capacity to conduct proactive operations to gather intelligence and respond speedily to rhino poaching incidents. The prominent visibility of the vehicles during patrols has helped as a deterrent in some of the areas and has resulted in the arrests of suspected poachers. We are very grateful to Volkswagen for entrusting us with these vehicles. They are more than just anti-poaching vehicles; they are an important component in our conservation initiatives across the country,” said Matthew Norval, Chief Operating Officer: Wilderness Foundation Africa.