Cape Town - In the crazy world we live in today, champions such as Hunter Mitchell, Aquila Animal and Rescue Centre’s ambassador truly give us hope.
While poaching is robbing future generations of their wildlife heritage, Mitchell at the tender age of eight-years-old decided he would do something about the Rhino's plight.
Some 363 rhino have been poached so far in 2016, and while still high it is a far site better than the 1020 estimated rhinos killed in 2014.
In case you didn't know, Mitchell created a crowd-funding initiative to raise money for an abandoned rhino calf at the Aquila Private Game Reserve at the beginning of the year. The baby eventually named Osita”, meaning “from today on-wards it will be better”, was rejected and ill-treated by its parents after it was born on New Year's Eve in 2015.
Young Mitchell ended up raising an estimated R75 000 after hearing the sad story about the endangered animal and has subsequently scooped the “Visionary Wildlife Warrior for 2016” awarded by the Steve Irwin Wildlife Warrior Foundation in Australia, says Aquila.
SEE: Baby rhino rescue drama in Cape reserve
Today, Osita is a strapping 600 kg and 1.4m tall and has adapted well to its surroundings with the help of a goat animal companion called “bokkie”, introduced to teach Osita how to graze and so that eventually human interaction could be reduced in preparation for the eventual release back into the wild.
Osita, “Bokkie” and a human carer spend every hour of the day together and are often seen on their twice daily walks through the reserve.
Mitchell, now nine-years-old is a frequent visitor to Osita and lends a hand with mud baths, feeding and mucking out the boma. Together with rhino carer, Divan Grobler and with the blessing of ARC and Rhino Art (an NGO focussed on the international education of children) he has visited many schools in the Western Cape area, raising awareness for rhino conservation.
Mitchell says that Osita has become a symbol of hope for him that rhinos can be protected if people care enough.
WATCH: Aquila's abandoned rhino finds an unlikely friend
But this time the tables have turned and Mitchell and his parents are the ones in need of funds to attend the gala event in Brisbane to receive his award at the end of November.
Unfortunately funds are an issue and ARC together with Rhino Art are appealing to the public to assist in getting this little wildlife warrior across the ocean to collect his award.
"We are looking to raise around R80 000 to send Hunter, his Mom and Grobler across to Australia, while over there Hunter and Grobler will be doing some talks at schools on rhino conservation."
As a result Aquila has sponsored a prize to assist and by simply donating R100, all proceeds goes to Hunter’s trip and you could win an overnight safari for a family of 4 at the award winning 4 star Aquila Private Game Reserve & Spa including all meals, activities and Spa treatments.
To enter click here and quote reference “Warrior” your name and contact number.
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- WATCH: Aquila's abandoned rhino finds an unlikely friend
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- PICS: 4th miracle rhino birth at Aquila in 3 months