Appeared in The Great Guide newspaper March 2021
By Sharon Blackwell
As the world went into lockdown life slowed down for some, but animal welfare rescue continues 365 days of the year. For some of us, we could finally look up at the trees and watch as weavers knitted their nests. Daily we watched the male’s progress, silently cheering them on, as he waited patiently for the female to inspect her nest. We hold our breaths and at last smile when she approved. The nights fell silent with the curfew dominating all activity and a single leaf could be heard gently falling to the ground. Social media was abuzz as more sightings of wildlife walked through deserted cities. The months crawled on, and finally, the world realized how much we rely on each other and how important wildlife is. The new insights about the impact we have on their daily lives their survival, and the gift we have to share the planet with them.
Warriors for Africa’s wildlife is where the crafters meet
conservation. Women sit sewing and knitting, Artists in front
of their canvases painting our wildlife with each stroke of their brush as they live in hope that in the future our wildlife
Warriors for Africa’s wildlife was founded by Nita Smith
along with her team of warriors volunteers. They have to co-ordinate all the handmade crafts donated around the country by volunteers who give up their time and use their money to buy wool, paint, canvases, and items to make jewelry to help the wildlife and sell their crafts at markets. They are not only talented but passionate about saving our wildlife
The Warriors support four Rhino orphanages:
- The Rhino orphanage
- Little Rhino orphanage
- Zululand Rhino orphanage
- Care for Wild Rhino orphanage
Everyone has their feelings about the full moon, the bright sky – whether day or night that can even entice the amateur photographer to snap hundreds of photos. Children fight over the family telescope to see the man on the moon but for people in animal welfare, the enchantress in the dark skies no longer brings us the joy of running outside to admire her beauty. Instead, we stand, shadows in solidarity, whispering “ keep our Rhinos safe“. In the wildlife world, the full moon is known as the poaches moon, nights where our Rhinos are in danger and easily seen. What was once a sky of breathtaking beauty filled with magic and wishing on a falling star has turned into a never-ending nightmare for wildlife lovers and rangers who try to protect the Rhinos.
Knitted squares of wool are sewn together to make blankets to keep the orphaned Rhinos warm. 20Kg of milk formula, making 160lt of milk, costs R1,800. Six-month-old orphaned Rhinos drink 16lt a day. It costs R5,400 a month to feed one orphaned Rhino, and that excludes the cost of their protexin, vitamins, and game pellets.
The warriors also give donations to Solidearth meerkat rescue and rehabilitation, and Hoedspruit Endangered rehabilitation. Monkeys are knitted for Vervet babies to cuddle with because they don’t have their mothers.
The donations to the Anti Poaching unit are for K9 food, enrichment toys, and blankets. The warriors also knit beanies and scarves for the rangers and are currently raising funds for uniforms for the new rangers.
The children that attend crèches just outside the reserves are not forgotten as they are the future at keeping the wildlife safe. They are educated about the wildlife and given educational material. During Easter and Christmas, the children are given knitted Easter bunnies, coloring in books, and provided with knitted scarves and beanies to keep them warm during the cold winters.
Donations of blankets, nuts, and fruit are donated to Jane Goodall Chimp Eden as well as gumboots for the staff and cleaning supplies. The chimps also dress up in gumboots or play with them as this is apart of their enrichment.
Warriors for Africa’s wildlife have so many beneficiaries that they try to assist and saving our wildlife is very costly. All these beautiful animals have a heartbreaking story behind them. These primates never forget the terrors of witnessing their mothers being poached. The chimp that was kept as a pet imitates the ladies by washing her blanket, just like she remembered. Or the chimp (also kept as a pet) makes a hole in her blanket turning it into a skirt, or finding wire and turning it into a necklace.
A difference is being made for all our wildlife, but not enough and not fast enough. As a country, we could raise our voices together in the fight to protect our wildlife. A lion’s roar can be heard eight kilometers away and as South Africans standing together our voices on behalf of our wildlife will be heard around the world.
It starts in our backyard by teaching our children to feed wild birds, providing them with seeds and fruit attracting different species. On the 3rd of March, we celebrate international wildlife day, however small or large your action will be let’s stand together giving give our wildlife a voice and hope for the next generation. The warriors for Africa’s wildlife (WAW) can be found on Facebook with daily updates and new projects that the community can get involved with. They are also a guest beneficiary at the Tails and Whiskers Charity shop.