Rhino warrior girl still on track

A 14-year-old Grahamstown schoolgirl who has already raised R200000 to try and save Eastern Cape’s rhinos from poachers, said she had no plans of giving up anytime soon.

Since she was 10 years old, Jules Murray has been raising money to train sniffer dogs to follow poachers, buy tracking collars for rhino and specialised equipment to try and save them after their horns have been hacked off.

Instead of asking for handouts, the hard-working Grade 9 Diocesan School for Girls (DSG) pupil has come up with innovative ideas to raise funds for rhino conservation and empower marginalised communities at the same time.

“All the money goes to conservation and the people who make beaded rhino and other trinkets,” she said.

From humble beginnings four years ago when she hosted a birthday party at the family home in Hong Kong – where she raised R30000 by asking friends to bring money instead of presents and to paint rhino posters which were auctioned off – Murray’s passion to save the species has snowballed into a conservation trust called JuMu.

“It is a shortened version of my name,” she said.

After the success of her initial fundraiser, Murray said she was inspired to do more when she came to hand the money over to the Chipembere Trust near Grahamstown and spent time with wildlife vet Dr Will Fowlds.

“Dr Fowlds took me in a helicopter to collar a rhino – the experience was amazing. I left motivated and inspired.”

Soon afterwards, she met a man on a Durban beach who was selling beaded trinkets and decided to get tiny rhinos made and sent to Hong Kong to sell and raise awareness about the plight of the threatened species.

As the project gained steam, women from Eastern Cape townships were roped in to sew up door stoppers, key rings and other rhino trinkets she designs.

Her newest addition to the JuMu line is a pewter key ring made by a Grahamstown artist.

Although Murray is the brains behind the initiative, she said she would not be able to do it without the help of her mother Bloss.

Her proud mother said: “I am delighted Jules has used her love of animals to make a contribution to the protection of Africa’s threatened wildlife.”

As a result of her efforts, Murray was invited to speak at the World Youth Rhino Summit in Durban two years ago

“I really think that we need to figure out more ways to stop poachers before they kill all the rhino. Unless someone has an amazing idea, it won’t stop.”

Murray said a key was to educate communities around game reserves, so they could earn something saving rhino instead of working with poachers.

“They get paid by poachers to do it, they have nothing.” — davidm@dispatch.co.za

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