George: A Hero for Rhinos

Sep 22, 2017 Conservation
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I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples” – Mother Theresa

Today on World Rhino Day we pay tribute to all the people who spend their lives protecting these magnificent animals – anti-poaching teams, trackers, guides, guests and our dedicated rhino monitors who are a constant presence – spending days and nights watching over these great beasts.

One such hero is George Njunja James, recently nominated for his work in the ‘Unsung Hero’ category in the Pure Life Experiences Awards. George deserves to be mentioned for his unfailing commitment to rhino conservation in Botswana.

His work in conservation began in 2005 when he joined Wilderness Safaris as a maintenance assistant at Mombo Camp. Having friends in the Rhino Reintroduction Project meant that George would often meet up with them in his spare time and he began helping out in whatever way he could. His commitment and enthusiasm for the project soon materialised into a fulltime position that began in 2007.

Today it has been 10 years since George first began his work with rhino. This project and the time he has spent has resulted in significant amounts of data being collected on rhino – their behaviour, movements and preferences. Details that he logs include GPS locations, photographs, video, and notes on the condition of the animal. This data is being used to inform our future rhino reintroduction decisions, and has contributed vital information that is important for Botswana’s national rhino strategy.

When back in camp, George is responsible for the upkeep of the rhino bomas, ensuring that these are in good condition and ready for urgent relocations or darting operations, something that may happen at any time.

His rhino monitoring patrols in such remote areas have also contributed greatly to the safety of these animals from illegal hunters.

George’s fascination for wildlife first became evident during his childhood in Shakawe in northern Botswana. Growing up on the fringes of the Okavango Delta, his early interest developed into a genuine passion for conservation, and joining Wilderness Safaris enabled him to pursue this.

George’s talents however extend far beyond his fieldwork. His natural way with words combined with his passion and wealth of knowledge makes him a compelling speaker on the subject of rhino conservation. Wilderness Safaris guests at Mombo and Little Mombo Camps have been inspired by his regular evening talks, returning home as eloquent advocates for rhino protection.

George’s work involves close collaboration with Botswana Government agencies including the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) and the Botswana Defence Force (BDF). This helps strengthen the strategic and operational partnerships upon which rhino conservation in Botswana depends.

We are immensely proud of George and his work, as well as all the unsung heroes like him who work tireless hours to protect our wildlife. Thank you to every one of you for changing lives!

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By Kate Collins

Kate grew up exploring the bushveld on her family rose farm, living among Nguni cattle, geese, warthogs, ostriches and horses. After completing an Honours degree at the University of Cape Town, Kate began working at Wild magazine as a journalist and as the Digital Editor of the Wild Card website. Kate has travelled to destinations throughout southern Africa, enjoying the many rich offerings of our country. Her work at Wild magazine helped secure her next move to Londolozi Game Reserve where she worked in their Creative team managing online communications and assisting guests with their wildlife photography. Kate now lives in Johannesburg and is proud to be a part of Wilderness Safaris in her role as copywriter. “I am very excited to work for a company that makes such a huge difference to people’s lives and to the wild places throughout our incredibly beautiful and diverse continent.”

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