A head-turning life-sized rhino called “Olli” roared through East London yesterday followed by a cyclist on a mission to draw attention to South Africa’s vulnerable rhino population by visiting 20 game reserves in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
Port Elizabeth small business owner Wayne Bolton, 51, set off on the 2000km One Land Love It (OLLI) Frontier Ride from the Kragga Kamma Game Reserve in Nelson Mandela Bay on July1.
He aims to visit 20 game reserves by the time he reaches the Mozambique border on August 1.
Riding ahead of Bolton are his wife Nikki, 50, who tows the giant fibreglass rhino, and a vehicle containing the couple’s two children Daniel, 23, and Laura, 21, who cycle with their father on some legs of the journey.
“We are all honorary SANPark rangers and have always loved being in the bush and we wanted to stop feeling helpless about rhino poaching,” Nikki said.
Yesterday the OLLI Frontier Ride set off from Kidds Beach for the 85km journey to Mpongo Private Game Reserve, where Wayne was to deliver his thank you speech to rangers for their tireless conservation work.
“We thank the rangers and anti-poaching units and they say they find it so inspiring that someone from outside of the industry notices what they are doing,” said Wayne, who stopped pedalling briefly to speak to the Daily Dispatch en route to Mpongo yesterday morning.
“I was thinking life should be more than working and making ends meet, and I think I was in a bit of a rut.
“I decided to make a difference and, because I am a SANPark honorary ranger, my first thought was to do something about the loss of our wildlife. “The only problem was that I hadn’t exercised for 14 years!”
Waynes’ first anti-poaching cycle was a 6000km trans-South Africa cycle to 19 SANParks between Kruger National Park and Addo National Park in which he raised R150000. It was split between for Care for Wild Africa rhino orphanage and SANParks counter-poaching initiatives.
The current expedition, sponsored mainly by Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, has been enhanced by the addition of the life-sized fibreglass rhino Olli, which is carted along behind Nikki’s car in her “Olli trolley”.
“Olli was once known as George and he was pulled by Anton Fouche, who in 2015 walked 1500km physically pulling him to raise awareness and funds for rangers and rhinos,” Nikki said.
“We refurbished and repainted him,” she added.
A smaller, pinker rhino is mounted on Wayne’s handlebars.
“I call him Five and I tell people when Five is gone, we will only have the Big Four.”
For more information or to contribute to Care for Wild rhino orphanage, please go to www.oneland.co.za. — firstname.lastname@example.org