A great night for rhinos at the RGSPublished: 16th November 2016

All of the staff here at Real Africa always look forward to our anniversary event at the Royal Geographical Society in London. This year the evening was in aid of Save the Rhino International who work to conserve all five species of rhino.

We think our reception committee on Exhibition Road was greatly enhanced this year with Paul and Lily being joined by a member of the Save the Rhino team wearing one of the charity's iconic rhino costumes - last seen on the Great Wall of China. 

The Map Room was open for drinks from 6pm and it was great to welcome over 200 friends, clients, colleagues and supporters of Save the Rhino to our big night. Our special guest speakers, the explorer Benedict Allen, anti poaching dog trainer Daryll Pleasants and Director of Save the Rhino, Cathy Dean chatted with guests before and after the lecture and were very generous with their time.

Our speakers were joined by a number of exceptionally knowledgeable guests including Madelon Willemsen, the Programme Manager from TRAFFIC Vietnam and Wanjiku Kinuthia from Lewa Conservancy, Kenya who were both in the UK visiting for the week. Madelon Willemsen is focussed on illegal wildlife trafficking and rhino horn demand reduction activities - many of our guests had watched High & the Ivory War on the BBC earlier in the week so Madelon was able to add further insight. 

Other high profile guests included the film director Susanna White (Bleak House, Jane Eyre) and the US academic commentator and critic Diane Roberts. We were extremely honoured to welcome some famous faces from the local neighbourhood too, attending in a strictly private capacity. Thank you to all those who came out on a dark November evening to support our event and to help us raise vital funds for Save the Rhino. 

Benedict Allen kicked off proceedings at 7pm with a very amusing talk which meandered from the jungles of the Amazon where he walked and paddled some 600 miles,  to Papua New Guinea and his close encounters with the Niowra tribe.He inspired us with stories of his journey down the Skeleton Coast in Namibia and reflected on his life as an explorer saying at a personal level that "Exploration isn't about conquering nature but about letting the place and wildlife make its mark on you".

Cathy Dean, Director of Save the Rhino, then took us to the wilds of South Africa's Hluhluwe–Imfolozi, where she travelled earlier in the year giving a very personal perspective - she talked not only about her own experiences and close encounters with the rhinos of Hluluwe Imfolozi but about how poaching in South Africa has had a dramatic impact on the lives of ordinary rangers. Supporting the community is an important element of Save the Rhino's work. 

Daryll Pleasants from charity animalssavinganimals then took to the stage to talk about the work of the anti poaching dog squads, just one tool among many others in the strategy against poaching.  His very first image showed a wheelbarrow loaded with young pups, the first stage in their training to help them combat motion sickness. He told us how important it is to develop a strong bond between dog and handler and explained the role of the dog squads who can work effectively at night when poaching is at its peak. The squads not only track poachers and detect illegal arms and caches of horn/ivory but also support the local community by finding lost property and livestock. 

A Q&A closed the evening with guests then free to circulate in the theatre and spend time meeting our speakers and special guests. 








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