What If we told you the game of soccer can save the rhinoceros. Seeing is believing. - The community is part of conservation. You cannot manage a reserve from the inside out, you must manage it from the outside in.
What if I told you two days ago that the game of soccer could save the rhinoceros?
I would not believe it, I would not believe it… but we are seeing it. Seeing is believing and we are experiencing it, it was all so magical. Yesterday was really magical. These poachers are not “Mickey Mouse” they are serious people that are doing the wrong things and just to uplift that person with a soccer jersey. To empower that poacher and say to him straight; "you are not nothing, you are somebody".
You can see in their emotion, when they are receiving their soccer jerseys, you can see it in when they play soccer, you can see it in the how they walk around, how proud they are and so on that is all very magnificent.
But in talking to them and I couldn't believe that they were shouting at me, that they ambushed me and so on, suddenly yesterday it was like a festival and something special. The communities are seeing that conservation is not a threat to them, that we are willing to go out to them and start talking to them so we can work together and solve the problem together. The community is part of conservation you cannot manage a reserve from inside out, you must manage a reserve from outside inwards and communities all over the world, are all a part of conservation. You cannot say poachers are from the community and that they are separate from everyone within the community, they part of the community and one must accept that. The concept of poaching will not go away, you must address them, so it's better that you step out of your comfort zone meet them, see what's going on there and work together with them. All it took was a soccer ball to bring the two parties together, that was a very big step.
Because soccer in the African community is a very big deal, the game of soccer is life, it's joy, happiness, it's competition, it's something for them to get excited about, so bringing a soccer team to a community, is a major uplifting point.