Children’s author highlights plight of SA’s rhinos

Matthew Comley

CHILDREN’s author Linda “Lulu” Fellowes has published her fourth book, iThemba in Where There’s Life There’s Hope, about a rhino and her game-ranger who take on rhino poachers – and win.

“I love writing books for this age group [between three and seven tears old] because you get to educate both the parent and the child in one go,” Fellowes said.

“Children are sponges at this age and it is wonderful to be able to instil in them a love of conservation and wildlife.” In the book, children join two-ton heroine iThemba and her game-ranger friend Joe as they foil the wicked hunters who come looking for her horn late one night.

The story was loosely based on the real-life arrest of rhino poachers at the Kruger National Park, and readers would learn more about rhinos along the way, Fellowes said.

“Before I wrote the rhino book, I had no idea that rhino horn was keratin, exactly the same as our nails and hair,” she said.

“We could ask all the hairdressers around South Africa to collect all the hair they sweep up every day and we would have an endless supply of free rhino horn.”

Fellowes has written three other books, Peter, Pamela and Percy in the Big Spill; Eric in It’s a Piece of Cake and Nicole in The Surf is my Turf.

All her stories are told in rhyme and aimed at children between three and seven years old.

She said she had been unaware that two rhinos, Themba and Thandiswa, had been attacked by poachers at the Kariega Game Reserve in March, but she was holding thumbs for Thandiswa, who survived.

Fellowes has donated 200 copies of the book to the Wilderness Foundation, which will receive the proceeds from each one sold.

The Wilderness Foundation’s Forever Wild campaign aims to maintain populations of free-ranging rhinos in state and privately managed conservation areas by helping conservation agencies and organised private game reserves protect their rhino populations as part of functioning natural ecosystems.

The campaign also aspires to focus the attention of politicians and decision-makers to encourage them to apply pressure both nationally and abroad to address the issue of illegal trade in rhino horn and other wildlife products.

“We are extremely grateful for the support of the public, and people like Linda Fellowes who donated her time and creativity to helping to raise awareness of this global crisis,” Wilderness Foundation director Andrew Muir said.

“Without the support of and outcry from the public, South Africa would no longer be known internationally as the country that successfully hosted the 2010 Soccer World Cup, but the country that allowed its rhinos to become extinct,” he said.

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