Schoolgirl turns birthday parties into rhino auctions

08 May 2016 - 02:00 By SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER

Living in Asia, the centre of the illegal trade in rhino horn, inspired a South African teenager to raise almost R200000 for wildlife conservation . Jules Murray's money has enabled the Chipembere Rhino Foundation to buy tracking collars and anti-poaching equipment for game rangers and cover vet and helicopter costs. She has also sponsored a tracker dog named Dixie.Murray, 14, began her fundraising three years ago while living with her family in Hong Kong. She cancelled her 11th birthday party and instead invited friends to paint rhino pictures, which were auctioned. She raised R30000.Since then Murray, now a Grade 9 pupil in Grahamstown, has hosted rhino parties and sold a variety of rhino trinkets.She has addressed the World Rhino Summit and appeared on wildlife television shows.story_article_left1"When wildlife veterinarian William Fowlds invited me to join him in the helicopter to help collar a rhino, it was truly an amazing moment for me," she said."To be up close and to see and touch these gentle giants was a truly humbling experience. That day had a huge impact on me."I have raised nearly R200000 to date. Most of the money has been given to Chipembere and they have used it for lots of different things."Murray's latest scheme was to sell pewter rhino key rings to game lodges.She believes young people have to take responsibility for endangered wildlife.story_article_right2"We must be a responsible generation, the protectors and preservers of the planet's threatened fauna and flora," she said.Her mother, Bloss, said she had encouraged her children to be "community conscious and try to give back where they can"."Preserving our natural heritage and protecting threatened fauna and flora are what I feel very strongly about, so I am supportive and very proud of her trying to make a difference."The Chipembere Foundation was established in 2010 by Brent and Chantelle Cook, owners of a safari camp in the Eastern Cape.Brent Cook praised Murray's efforts at raising funds."Such passion and commitment are inspiring and Jules's contribution reminds us that every one of us can contribute," he said.

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