Simon Jones, A Life Dedicated To Helping Rhinos

Simon Jones is the founder and CEO of Helping Rhinos, a charity he established in 2012. Simon’s love for animals began at a very young age. His home in the south of England was often referred to as the ‘local zoo’ as he had a whole range of pets that included dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, and even a tortoise to name a few. Simon also rode horses as a child and would often spend early childhood family holidays on working farms looking after the cattle and pigs.

It takes a lot of work and dedication to run a charity like Helping Rhinos. A typical day for Simon would start at around 6:30am with checking the emails that have been received overnight (with an international charity there is no off time!). Once the emails have been reviewed each day can be very different. Some days will be focused on raising funds to help support Helping Rhinos’ work in the field and others will be more focused around the actual work on the ground and talking to the teams across Africa. Before Covid-19 travel restrictions were imposed Simon would spend at least one or two days a week in face to face meetings with supporters and sponsors. Typically, his day ends anywhere between 7pm and 10pm with more email work.

A popular night raising funds for the charity.

The goal of Helping Rhinos is to provide secure and sustainable environments for all species of rhinos to thrive for generations to come.

In the field, Helping Rhinos will establish secure rhino strongholds through the creation of innovative protection strategies, sustainable land management operations that ensure a rich, biodiverse ecosystem and inspiring local communities to proactively engage in rhino conservation.

Around the world Helping Rhinos will ensure sustainable long term rhino conservation by developing a community of interested and engaged people and donors through international education programmes. Furthermore, to develop an innovative, entrepreneurial approach to funding rhino conservation.

Simon knows in order for rhinos to have a chance at long term survival it is vital for the local African communities to realize the importance of saving the species. Without the cooperation of the local population, it would be impossible to help rhinos.

Simon and his team balance the need to protect the land for wildlife and to sustain a human population. They educate local communities about the benefits of keeping land for wildlife by offering meaningful incentives to protect wildlife and help eliminate poaching. For example, the communities surrounding Ol Pejeta Conservancy, one of Helping Rhinos field projects, benefits from the conservancy building new schools, medical dispensaries and the provision of business management skills training. This is a huge incentive for these communities to work closely with the conservancy and to help protect and keep safe their wildlife.

They also fund anti-poaching units. This is key to protecting rhinos. Rangers need to be trained and provided with the best technology to keep themselves and the animals they protect safe. This all takes money.

Helping Rhinos also knows it is important to work with Governments at all levels to encourage them to implement enforceable legislation and effective penalties to deter poachers from killing rhinos. Simon and his group also lobby for the protection of habitat.

One of the hardest parts of running an NGO such as Helping Rhinos is the remoteness of the organisation to the rhinos on the ground.  Simon and his whole team have a huge passion to protect rhinso in their natural habitat, but it can be tough when times are busy and stressful and you are half a world away from the animals and the nature you are trying to protect.

That is why when Simon is in the field these are the most memorable times for him. Simon says there are too many memorable occasions to pick just one, but a few that stand out are the first time he saw rhino poaching survivor Thandi after her attack. Simon had seen Thandi a few years before the attack (and before she even had a name), but to see her just a few months after her face had been hacked off, looking strong was very emotional. Similarly, spending time with Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, just weeks before his passing due to age related conditions was also very emotional. Saying goodbye to Sudan, knowing he wouldn’t ever see him again was very tough. And finally, seeing the strength of character of the rhino orphans, who have survived the loss of their mothers, often having witnessed their brutal slaughter at the hands of poachers, really does give Simon huge inspiration and motivation to keep fighting every day for these majestic animals.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on conservation. The sector relies largely on income from nature-based tourism, which was abruptly turned off overnight and is unlikely to recover until well into 2021.

One upside however is that the poaching of species like rhinos actually significantly reduced during the lockdown period. With international borders closed and domestic travel a lot more difficult to undertake without being noticed, the risk of being left with an illegally procured rhino horn was too big a risk. However, Simon says that the rhino conservation world is bracing itself for a poaching spike now the borders have opened again. Managing this spike if it does materialize will be a bigger challenge than ever with a lack of available resources that’s due to the pandemic.

September 22nd each year is World Rhino Day, but for Simon and his team, every day is rhino day. Every day, they do what they can to help save these beautiful animals. If you would like to learn more about Helping Rhinos, check out their website. There are many ways to get involved, including donating, ‘adopting’ a rhino, running your own fundraising campaign, trying out one of the many fun rhino activities they have, such as colouring sheets, info sheets, learning to draw a rhino!

I personally am so excited to be collaborating with Helping Rhinos. I will be donating 10% of all royalties earned from my picture book, A Family For Faru, to this wonderful group. Please check out their shop. They have so many amazing items for sale, including links to purchase books that support rhino conservation like A Family For Faru.

https://www.helpingrhinos.org/

Episode 29: Kindness Is To Keep Writing

Fifteen-year-old Amelia Penney-Crocker returns to the show to continue chatting about her dedication to make our planet a better place for all. Back in episode 3, Amelia shared some of the 53 letters she wrote to Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Her letters which cover the climate crisis, demand the government take immediate action. Though she and Anitha discussed some of the letters, there was still so much left to talk about.

Anitha is grateful to Amelia for generously coming back to continue this important conversation. In this episode, Amelia talks about why climate change affects certain populations more than others.

An incredible episode with an incredible young woman.

To read some of the amazing and impactful letters, visit Amelia’s website: https://ameliapenneycrocker.com/

As a thank you to Amelia for sharing her story, Anitha donated to Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre.

For more information about this organization, please check out their website: https://mymnfc.com/

Episode 28: Kindness Is Seeing Greatness In Small Creatures

Many of us find it easy to care about dogs, cats, whales, elephants. But what about insects? How many of us can honestly say, we’re careful not to step on an ant or a spider?

Fourteen-year old Xander Johnston from Scotland joins Anitha to share his passion for insects. He talks about where his interest in insects came from, his favorite little creature, how he became known as ANT BOY, and so much more, including simple things we all can do to protect insects and wildlife.

Xander will change the way you think about bugs.

This is a wonderful episode for adults, kids, those who are fascinated by bugs, and those who are squeamish!

To hear more from Xander, check out his amazing YouTube videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVnKrXbUga46ABcnwyCEBtw

As a thank you for sharing his story, Anitha donated to Bug Life. This UK based organization is dedicated to “saving the small things that run the planet”.

As Sir David Attenborough said, “If we and the rest of the back-boned animals were to disappear overnight, the rest of the world would get on pretty well. But if the invertebrates were to disappear, the world’s ecosystems would collapse.’ 

For more information on Bug Life, check out their website: www.buglife.org.uk

Episode 27: Kindness Is Helping Birds

In Canada, 25 million birds die every year from injuries sustained when they collide into windows. Angela Demarse from Bird Safe Guelph talks about what this organization is doing to prevent this terrible tragedy from continuing.

Angela shares simple tips on what each of us can do to prevent birds from crashing into our windows.

To learn more about Bird Safe Guelph, check out their website and Instagram page:

https://birdsafeguelph.ca/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/birdsafeguelph/?hl=en

As a thank you to Angela, for sharing her story, Anitha donated to Nature Canada.

Nature Canada is one of the oldest national nature conservation charities in Canada. For 80 years, they have helped protect over 110 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada. They have also protected countless species. To learn more about this wonderful charity, click on this link: https://naturecanada.ca/

Correction: During the podcast, Angela mentions that 1/4 of the globe was covered in wilderness. Upon further reading, Angela noted that it is closer to 1/2.

Episode 26: Kindness Is Saving Sharks

Thirteen-year old Finlay Pringle, joins Anitha to share his passion about sharks.

Sharks have been cruelly misjudged and wrongly considered ruthless predators of the sea. Finlay dispels these myths and tells us the truth about sharks. He also talks about the reasons 100 million sharks are killed every year and why it is so important to save them.

An incredibly eye-opening episode!

As a thank you for sharing his story, Anitha donated to Bite Back Shark and Marine Conservation. To learn about the wonderful work this organization does to protect sharks, click on the link: https://www.bite-back.com

To learn more about the wonderful work Finlay does to help sharks, check out his website: https://ullapoolsharkambassador.com

Episode 25: Kindness Is Family

This is a very personal episode for Anitha. Her son, Daniel joins her to celebrate the 25th episode of the podcast. At Daniel’s request, Anitha does her best to hold back her absolute pride as she and Daniel chat about all the kind and wonderful things he has done, from singing at nursing homes to volunteering at a camp for children with and/or recovering from cancer to creating the Sounds of Silence initiative and more.

They share fun family memories and also talk about Daniel’s sister, Alyssa and all the amazing things she has done to help animals and the environment.

A special episode about family and kindness.

As a thank you to Daniel for being kind enough to come on to his mom’s podcast, Anitha donated to Eva’s Initiatives For Homeless Youth. To learn more about this charity, please click on this link: https://www.evas.ca

Episode 24: Kindness Is Childhood Dreams

When she was around seven years old, Olivia Pisano received a huge book all about animals. She loved learning about the animals, especially the whales. This interest in whales continued through elementary school, high school, all the way to her PhD.

Olivia joins Anitha to share her incredible story of connecting her PhD with her passion to help whales.

Olivia talks about her research project to use satellite imagery as a way to keep whales safe. She and Anitha also discuss major threats to the whale population, such as entanglement in fishing gear.

As a thank you to Olivia for sharing her story, Anitha donated to the Canadian Whale Institute. This charity is dedicated to protecting marine mammals and their habitats. To learn more about this group, please click here: https://www.canadianwhaleinstitute.ca

Episode 23: Kindness Is Saving Whales Together

In this very special episode, Jessica Cambell and her fifth-grade class from Mount Madonna School in California join Anitha to talk about their year- long class project to protect whales.

The students take turns talking about why they chose whales for their environmental project, what they have learned, the activities they have organized to spread the word about the plight of whales, and so much more.

These students show how much can be accomplished toward making the world a better place for all species, when people work together.

A truly inspiring episode!

As a thank you to Ms. Cambell and her students for sharing their story, Anitha donated to Save The Whales.

To learn more about Save The Whales, click here: https://savethewhales.org/

Episode 22: Kindness Is Choosing Your Cause

Isha and Khushbu

Isha Naik and Khushbu Kumari join Anitha from Australia to share their story of creating Choose Your Cause, an organization dedicated to educating and empowering young people about local and international issues that impact adolescents like themselves.

Isha and Khushbu talk about what inspired them to come together and volunteer their time and energy to help youth become involved in charities.

This is a wonderful episode about finding a charity one is passionate about and developing a lasting relationship with these charities.

To learn more about Choose Your Cause and all the charities and projects they are involved with, click on this link:  https://www.chooseyourcause.com.au/

As a thank you to Isha and Khushbu for sharing their story, Anitha donated to The East West Foundation. TEWF is a not-for-profit, volunteer-driven foundation committed to achieving the development and empowerment of socially and economically marginalized communities in rural India. To learn more about TEWF, click here: https://www.chooseyourcause.com.au/tewf

Episode 21: Kindness is Music Without Borders

Thirteen-year old Veronika Kolarska joins Anitha to talk about her passion for music. An incredibly talented musician, Veronika can play the piano, the violin, the recorder, the ukulele, the guitar, the flute and even musical spoons!

Veronika talks about how she loves using her musical abilities to help others—teaching music to kids and being a part of a special virtual orchestra that raised funds for Musicians Without Borders, a charity that uses music to build peace and social change. Veronika participated in this fundraiser through Explorer Hop, a program that teaches young people about money management, entrepreneurship and how to be global citizens.

Veronika even treats listeners by sharing some of her musical talents!

As a thank you to Veronika for sharing her story, Anitha donated to Canadian Feed The Children, Covid-19 Urgent Appeal. If you would like to learn more about this charity, please click on this link: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/canadian-feed-the-children/campaign/covid-19-urgent-appeal/?sm=1

To learn more about Explorer Hop, click here: https://explorerhop.com/

To learn more about author Erin Silver and the books she writes, click here: http://www.erinsilver.ca/