"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi. These words rang true when Haval Motor Southern Africa commenced their second leg of the 2019 Haval Outreach expedition. The first week was about the cars and the scenery that is the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga but the second leg will forever be remembered as the time Haval Motors SA sought to be the change they wanted to see in the world.
The team of Haval staffers and their trusted fleet of Haval SUVs and the GWM Steed 5E Double Cab met the group of Lifestyle Magazine scribes and social media influencers for the second leg at the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport for what promised to be a week filled with sights, sounds and great memories in the making. After a stop in Hazyview to refresh and replenish, the convoy headed towards the other end of the Blyde River Canyon for their stop over at the Swadini Resort. The evening was the opportunity for Rhino conservationists to brief the group on what was going to happen the following day. Haval Motors SA made a contribution in the form of monetary support to Rhino conservation in the Klaserie Game Reserve. These funds went directly towards assistance in the dehorning program that is currently ongoing in the area in and around South Africa's primary game reserve, The Kruger National Park.
The current rhino poaching crisis began in 2008, with increasing numbers of rhino killed for their horn throughout Africa until 2015. For the past couple of years, the total number of rhinos poached has thankfully decreased, yet there is still a lot to do to ensure all rhinos thrive. South Africa holds nearly 80% of the world's rhinos and has been the country hit hardest by poaching criminals, with more than 1,000 rhinos killed each year between 2013 and 2017. For this reason, Haval Motors made the contribution to help assist in the process of conserving this amazing species in the area. Rhino dehorning is not a pleasant thing to witness. Just the mention of it evokes a sense of brutality. It is a sad reality that in order to help save rhino species from the threat of poaching, the pre-emptive removal of their horns in a safe, controlled manner has become one of the necessary and highly effective management tools for conservationists to deter poachers.
It is important to note that the rhino horn is essentially an overgrown fingernail – made mostly of a tightly-packed protein called keratin. Even though rhino dehorning requires a chainsaw and even an angle grinder, the process is carried out by an experienced veterinarian and is a painless experience for the animal under sedation.
So with all this information in mind and with a tentative level of excitement and a large measure of seriousness the group made its way to Klaserie Game Reserve to meet the skilled crew that had gathered for the dehorning mission. Upon arrival the Haval Outreach Expedition members were met by a team some 20 people strong with various vehicles including a grounded helicopter at the entrance to the reserve. After being welcomed by a member of the National Parks Board, the team was briefed by the lead veterinarian who would be responsible for the animal during its procedure. We were told that a spotter plane had localized a group of Rhino that had three dehorned and two with their horns intact and these would be the animals today's activity would help. The wildlife vet, a "veteran" of successful rhino dehornings, delivered an important safety briefing to all those present and who would be involved in the rhino dehorning operation. In these operations the vet always calls the shots for the safety of both the rhino and the people working with it. All involved are warned not to get anywhere near the dart's entry point, as contact with the drug can have serious effects on a human. The vet does carry an emergency antidote at all times in case of accidental human contact.
When everyone was briefed, the game viewer vehicles were embarked while the helicopter, now in the air, circled above an area visible from our starting point. We set off towards the area with careful haste in cold 3 degree weather. With continuous radio contact, the helicopter radioed that the animal had been successfully darted and the team made the approach. Every precaution is taken to ensure that rhino dehorning is as stress-free for the animal as possible. This begins with sedation by a dart administered from the helicopter, containing a powerful opioid drug. Once the animal is under sedation, the sedative is partially reversed. This is so that the animal can continue to breathe unassisted. Its eyes are covered with a large blindfold; its ears are plugged to drown out sound. The immobilisation drugs have no lasting effects on the animals. Upon arrival at the majestic beast perched peacefully as if asleep, a silence befell the group as the work began. As if trained in mercenary like fashion, the team went about their business with members of the expedition fulfilling key roles under the watchful eye of the three veterinarians present. Once the operation was completed, the ground crew moved off to a safe distance and the veterinarian administered the antidote to wake the animal. The veterinarian positioned himself strategically to observe the animal coming around and ensured that the individual made a full recovery before leaving it. The adult male Rhino got up, looked around and proceeded to gallop off into the African savannah as if he had had his nails clipped. It was a moving experience and all present were in awe. "We saved that creatures life!" said one of the influencers with a lump in his throat.
The day ended with a trip through Bushbuck Ridge back towards Hazyview to the next stop over for the evening at the Protea Hotel Hazyview. That night's dinner table was a rumble of reminiscing and talks about the once in a lifetime experience everyone present had witnessed with thoughts and sentiments resounding with the good deed completed that day.
After a good night's rest, it was off to Graskop Gorge for excitement in the form of the Gorge Swing or Zip lining as well as a lift trip to the bottom of the Gorge for a hike in the rainforest. The Lifestyle press and influencers got the opportunity to drive the vehicles during the trip to Graskop and from Graskop towards the tourist attractions like God's Window, Berlin falls and the back to Hazyview.
On the final day the group travelled towards White River just outside Nelspruit for the next stop at the White River Child Welfare Camp site. A camp site set up for foster children and their foster parents. Upon arrival the Havals were met by the melodic sounds of children singing a song of welcome to the group of weary travellers. Child Welfare SA White River is situated in the scenic Lowveld of Mpumalanga. The town of White River is surrounded by mountains, forests, waterfalls and other beautiful attractions which nature has to offer. Despite the beauty and serenity of this tourist hub, White River is not excluded from the social ills which plague communities all over our country. Social problems include the HIV/AIDS pandemic, child abuse, exploitation and neglect, unemployment, poverty, domestic violence, child trafficking and children made orphaned and vulnerable by HIV and AIDS and other diseases. In response to the above-mentioned social problems, Child Welfare SA White River was established in 1991 as an affiliated member organisation of Child Welfare South Africa. Child Welfare South Africa is an umbrella body with 263 affiliates, outreach projects and developing organisations across the country. Established in 1924, Child Welfare SA is the oldest and largest non-governmental child protection organisation in South Africa. What with the fact that Child Welfare is in such dire need of funding, a small handover ceremony was held where Haval Motors South Africa handed over a donation cheque. Greeted with smiles and waves and more singing, the convoy set off to Kruger Mpumalanga International to drop off guests followed by the last leg, the trip back to the head office in Johannesburg.
Simone Nortmann Pretorius Actor/Influencer had this to say after the event: "Adventuring with Haval SA on their Outreach Expedition might have been the most enriching experience I've had this year. I get excited when big global companies invest their time, resources and energy in making the world a better place, and Haval exceeded my expectations in every way - from the courteous team behind the organization, the intentional and thoughtful activities, as well as the impressive and smooth ride of the H6C - I feel incredibly honoured for the opportunity to have accompanied and witnessed the work Haval SA does behind the scenes, and I'm excited to see them making big waves in the South African motor industry."
Louw Lemmer Photographer/Influencer left the experience with this sentiment; "Your life can be changed at any given moment. But if there's one thing that's certain, it's that you cannot predict when it will happen. This is exactly how I felt about the Haval Outreach Expedition. Pure, life-changing enthrallment on a scale I could only dream of."
Mbali Mkhize Public Figure/Influencer made this statement on her platform; "Day 2: Today was one of the most fulfilling days of my life, I was filled with so much emotion and pride because I was a part of saving a Rhino's life.
It's no secret that poaching is a serious problem all over the world, increasingly in South Africa; rhinos are an endangered species because of Poachers who will do anything for their Horns! Poachers are ruthless and have no mercy when hunting down rhinos for their Horns, leaving a lot of rhinos to die.
In order to conserve and protect these precious animals, extreme measures have to be taken, increased security, sniffer dogs, armed security guards 24/7 and to remove the horns off the Rhinos (Term: dehorning) by Vets and trained professionals safely, just like a finger nail the rhino horn grows back fully and done by doctors and trained professionals, it's painless and it doesn't affect the Rhino's health in anyway.
I was a bit hesitant to post because I wanted to really share the true essence of today with you guys and most importantly bring awareness to Rhino Conservation, I wasn't sure how I would do that but I knew I had to speak from the heart. I'm very emotional as I type this because It's so sad that our Animals can't even roam freely without being in danger in their own natural habitants with that being said, I would like to thank @havalsouthafrica for taking me on such an emotional journey and donating not only money but resources to this wonderful cause, the Specially trained Vets and every single person who took part in saving a rhinos life today and every day."
Haval Motor South Africa has shown a huge growth spurt since their entry into the South African motor Industry landscape going from three dealers in 2017 to an astronomical 53 in just two years of operation without losing their levels of service due to the awards recently obtained from NADA. Great Wall Motor Corporation the holding company of Haval SA launched a global strategy earlier in 2019 to endeavour to make Haval a global brand, naming the strategy "one Haval one world". In doing so the market leader in the Chinese Automobile market has set a keen emphasis on the South African market, their biggest sales arena outside of China. This shows their commitment to Chinese South Africa business relations in creating jobs through not only the subsidiary but also the many dealerships that are now open as well as foreign investment into South Africa. Philanthropy exercises like the Outreach Expedition are near and dear to Haval Motors South Africa and have been and will be in the future, an annual exercise to assist in social upliftment in terms of causes that are in dire need of corporate intervention through donations and support. The 2019 Haval Outreach Expedition came and went however the lasting impressions left were that of gratitude, humility and the fact that doing good for others feels so good and Haval Motors SA is proud to commit to continue to be the change they want to see in the world.