This year, Assupol TuksCricket widened its community outreach spectrum and started a conservation project to help raise funds for the Black Rhino Reserve Wildlife Trust.
Part of the Trust’s function is to assist with rhino anti-poaching activities in the Pilanesberg National Park Wilderness area. The goal of the Assupol TuksCricket project was for players, staff and other stakeholders to raise funds to assist the Trust in its activities. They sold raffles tickets over the last few months, and with a contribution from Assupol, the Club managed to raise R30 000.
The handover of the money coincided with the Elite Squad’s Pre-Season teambuilding break-away in August in Pilanesberg. The breakaway was for the team to come together before the rush of the season and talk about their goals and vision for the season.
But the highlight was when the team had the opportunity to work with the Trust to dart two white rhinos. The first was a massive bull that had been reported injured. He had a wound but everyone was relieved when the vet confirmed that it was caused by another rhino in a territorial battle. The wound was treated and the group had an opportunity to take pictures and admire this impressive animal.
The second rhino was a female which needed to be notched. This is done for identification purposes as well as taking DNA samples and inserting microchips for easy identification. This rhino was then also given a name. After a brief discussion among the players they decided to name the rhino “Blanche” after their team manager. Updates will be sent regularly to the team on the well-being of this rhino cow in future.
This humbling experience took the team through each step on how the rhino anti-poaching unit goes about an operation, while the team assisted with the notching. Part of this once-in-a lifetime opportunity was that all involved had the experience of getting close to these animals.
Assupol TuksCricket Head of Programme and Head Coach, Kruger van Wyk said: “This project came at the start of our outreach month where we are supporting both conservation and community programmes. At the start of September, we will be hosting our annual cricket day with the Soweto Pioneers Cricket Club in Association with Assupol. I’m incredibly proud of the players who are buying into both our programmes and this weekend could definitely not have been a success without them.”
He said it is important for “us to be successful both on and off the field and for us, part of excellence off the field includes making a difference to people and in conservation. This impacts us all as human beings and leads to growth in who we are as people and how we perceive the world out there. We would like to thank the Black Rhino Reserve Wildlife Trust for allowing us to share in this opportunity and for all the efforts they put into conservation. This really was an amazing experience that all of us will carry with us for many years to come.”
Deon Strydom, co-founder and trustee of the Trust said “the power of combining sport and conservation efforts is extremely strong to create awareness and spread the word of the current issues regarding the poaching. The public needs to know what the facts are and they need to act to support these causes to preserve creation. This cricket team can only be successful if I look at the character of the guys and the passion from the entire coaching staff. We are looking forward to a great working relationship and making a difference together. Thanks to Kruger and Blanche for sharing our vision and to get the project off the ground. I could see the impact the few days had on some of the players that had never been on a safari let alone the privilege to be involved in a rhino darting. The feedback was immense and we are excited to partner with this group and their supporters and sponsors.”