The constant need for business to increase conservation efforts
As our society becomes more environmentally conscious, private business owners are doing their part to protect the environment by building conservation efforts into their corporate strategies.
But, according to David Anderson, Saint-Gobain Sub-Saharan Africa’s general delegate and chief executive officer, more private sector organisations should be getting involved in local conservation.
In light of World Environmental Day in June, Anderson shares his thoughts on why private business should direct funds towards preserving the environment, and more specifically, rhino anti-poaching efforts.
It’s been a year since Saint-Gobain Gyproc first entered its three-year sponsorship of The SANParks Honorary Rangers, aimed at furthering efforts to protect rhinos and augment anti-poaching strategies.
The funds from the first R1 million sponsorship tranche went towards training and buying much-needed equipment in the field for Rangers, and to support the SANPark’s air wing and veterinary wildlife services.
Gyproc’s second million rand pledged this year, together with proceeds from Gyproc Rhino Branded products sold in 2017, will collectively go towards the continuation of the organisation’s efforts to protect more rhinos.
Earlier this year, minister Edna Molewa from the Department of Environmental Affairs released poaching statistics which revealed that 1,028 rhino were poached in 2017, a slight decline of 26 animals from the previous year.
Despite this very minor decrease, the fact remains that nearly three rhinos are being killed every day. The problem persists and while we recognise the courageous efforts of The SANParks Honorary Rangers (SPHR), this awful crisis is still very much a reality and needs continuous private sector support.
We know that businesses can have a significant impact on the ecosystem and those who depend upon it and with this in mind, we sought an opportunity to make a real difference. The valiant efforts of the SPHR and its work to safeguard South Africa’s rhinos made our decision to support the conservation of this beautiful species an obvious one.
For decades, World Environment Day has encouraged worldwide awareness and action for the protection of the environment. But this subject is not something that should be discussed just once a year it is an ongoing point of discussion that should be a focal point all year round.
This is especially important as private businesses are increasingly understanding that investments in conservation can help to create opportunities, mitigate risk and protect business assets, environmentally friendly sponsorship opportunities are becoming a marketing imperative.
We saw an opportunity to align our long-standing Gyproc RhinoBoard and RhinoLite brands with the protection of the rhino itself because the strength of these products encompasses everything our business stands for.
For many years now, the plight of the rhino has been a constant news item, particularly in South Africa, but a significant and ongoing challenge is insufficient assistance from the government in combating the threat to an iconic African species.
Field Rangers, who donate their time to help combat poaching, are in desperate need of skills development, legal backing, combat preparation and equipment. While budget allocation towards anti-rhino poaching efforts by the Department of Environmental Affairs is most welcome, the reality is that the fight to protect the species requires additional funds through private support.
Organisations like SPHR rely heavily on private partnerships to make up the shortfall and fundraising for them is an on-going priority. It requires a massive effort by organisations and authorities alike who are committed to rebalancing the population against the threat of poaching.
The scale of the challenge of protecting South Africa’s rhinos is clear and the rise in poaching in recent years is compromising conservation gains made over decades.
While rhino conservation and poaching are a complex issue, we don’t believe that businesses can ever separate themselves from the environment.
Around the globe, companies like ours have a significant impact on the environment but buzzwords like green and sustainability should be more than just a factor of our supply chain or production line. It goes deeper than that and what better way to communicate the conservation message than to incorporate it into our product sales, educating our consumers on this very real need for change for something that has been core to South African wildlife for so long.
To find out more about how Saint-Gobain Gyproc is supporting the SAN Parks Honorary Rangers, visit their Facebook and Twitter pages, @GyprocSA, using the hashtag #GyprocLovesRhinos.
By David Anderson, Saint-Gobain Sub-Saharan Africa’s General Delegate and CEO
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