Extremely poor communities in Mozambique are located right next to the last remaining rhinos, these people are persuaded to poach rhinos for money. Providing other activities and opportunities will decrease their dependence on poaching and so the Rhino Cup Champions League was born... We want communities to stand together, create sustainable solutions for income and livelihood, allowing nature and humans to strive together. The Rhino Cup Champions League is pulling these communities together.
I started returning to Africa because of the people. Always loved to see the animals but it was really the people that, that kept me coming back.
Some of the poachers are young men with their whole life ahead of them. When they decide to go into the bush, it's a very big risk. The young men risk their lives trying to poach wildlife animals to put food on their family’s table. The unfortunate part of the whole poaching syndicate, is some of the young men lose their lives in the bush and so does our wildlife.
Finding a dead rhino, maybe it's a week old, poachers are long gone, sadly the rhino’s face is hacked off and it's very upsetting. Who could possibly do such a thing, it must be awful, awful, cold hearted people or people whose voices, aspirations and ambition have been sounded out by the modern-day colonialism? We are not going to win this war by catching all the poachers and especially not by killing the poachers. We're holding the line here but we're not going to win, in fact killing poachers is maybe making it worse.
If you are poor, there are people who can buy you. That is why it is so important for Wild and Free Foundation to; Engage with the communities, Invest in their future and Uplift the community as a whole to Protect the wildlife all around us.
We've shifted, from hating the poachers to helping the poachers. It's all just so much happier and enjoyable for everyone. Protect, you still must protect, you still must hold the line within the reserve.
Uplift, uplift the communities living outside the wildlife reserves so they don't have a reason to come in and poach in the first place.
Engage, engage these communities in a conservation discussion, engage them in the benefits of conservation and the benefits of that rhino or that elephant has alive, not dead.
If we had the right backing behind us, and you took the Rhino Cup Champions League (RCCL) to other areas, and it was done properly it's going to win far more hearts and minds towards wildlife then sending people home in wooden boxes.
The kids must keep busy, doing something, the Rhino Cup Champions League is an activity you're supposed to do and these will keep the youth in the community busy.
We've got to find other ways to protect wildlife without conflict or destruction. Protecting wildlife should be a celebration and foundation where everything around it is uplifted including the communities right next to the reserves and globally.
The first thing actually, the community said to us was; “well we could use some help with the soccer”.
If we don't change our approach towards looking after our wildlife and we only look at protection through the barrel of agun, our grandchildren aren't going to see; rhino or elephant or pangolin or anything
Now we are trying to keep them the youth within the community busy, busy, busy, and one day, we all hope that the progress will come.
Uplifting people will actually save the rhino more than arresting those people. We sent man to the moon. Surely, we can't find another way to protect the Rhino.
With the launch of the, Rhino Cup champions league, it's kind of become a big deal. People are excited. This whole football focus has taken on a life of its own. Footballs called the greatest game, so why can't the greatest game save the greatest animal.