During the past year I have met some truly remarkable people whilst volunteering and studying in Africa - people who have dedicated their lives to the welfare of animals, who live and breathe conservation and will fight to no end to stand up for what they believe in. Not least of all is my friend, Angie Goodie, who after a life-changing trip has become a dedicated activist fighting to raise awareness to the plight of the highly threatened rhinos.
After her first visit to South Africa in 2008 Angie found something that many people discover when they go to Africa - that you can't just go once! She began travelling back yearly taking in the beauty that South Africa offers and volunteering with the 'Great White Shark Project', but in 2012 she changed her routes and signed up for 2 weeks volunteering at Kariega Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape.
"I arrived on the 6th March 2012, a day I will never forget!"
Angie had arrived at a critical time at Kariega - three days after a horrific incident:
"On the 3rd March 2012, during the night, three rhinos at Kariega Game Reserve were brutally poached for their horn. The poachers had literally hacked their faces off."
Out of the three, miraculously, two survived but were in a desperate state; a young male later named Themba (meaning "Brave" in Xhosa), and a female who was called Thandi ("Love and Hope"). Sadly the third had died alone during the night, before anyone had known help was needed.
On her arrival Angie immediately set to work as part of a team fighting to save Themba and Thandi. Led by Dr William Fowlds (a vet who works on Animal Planet's "Vet's Go Wild", and who was the first vet on the scene after the incident) the team headed out into the bush to find the two rhinos and administer drip bags and any treatment they could. This was the first time Angie had seen a poached rhino:
"Believe you me it is one memorable, horrific sight... every time I close my eyes I can see their hacked faces."
Although Thandi had far worse facial injuries it was quickly clear that Themba was worse off. Having fallen badly during the poaching incident the circulation in his leg had been cut off and soon the leg began to die. This caused a deep infection which soon turned putrid, and very sadly, after fighting 24 days, Themba lay in his favourite watering hole and died.
"It was a very emotional day for everyone, especially for Dr Fowlds who worked tirelessly trying to save this young Rhino. However Thandi seemed to go from strength to strength, her name in Xhosa means 'Love and Hope', and she has certainly given us all hope - that rhinos can survive despite all the odds."
After 15 months Thandi is still thriving, although her face is permanently scarred and her horns will never grow back. The skin is still very weak and sometimes becomes damaged, but Dr Fowlds continues to work with her with pioneering re-constructive treatment.
But Angie did not simply come home and look back at photographs of her trip.
"I decided I was going to head back to the Isle of Man and raise awareness of what is going on in South Africa, and the ever diminishing population of the White and Black Rhino."
In celebration of 'World Rhino Day' on the 22nd September 2012 she held an auction at the local pub with items including "limited prints from a local Wild Life Artist Dr Jeremy Paul, a signed Liverpool football, a signed Ben Cohen England Rugby Shirt (from when we won the World Cup), a 3 night stay courtesy of Kariega Game Reserve, and a weekend break in a 5* Self Catering cottages here on the Isle of Man". Angie also rounded the support of local businesses and printed "World Rhino Day" t-shirts. She named the night after her rhino of hope and love, "Thandi's Fund Raiser". The event raised a staggering £5,000.
The money from the event went straight to Kariega Game Reserve to contribute to the on-going veterinary costs for Thandi, and also paid to de-horn and collar three other rhinos on the reserve.
"I felt hugely proud that the Isle of Man folk had achieved this."
This is where most would step back and say "I've done my bit", but not Angie! With Rhino Poaching hitting an all-time high (more than 500 rhinos in South Africa have been poached this year alone, and it is only July) she believes that with raising awareness and funds we can curb this trend drastically.
This time the focus is to raise money for Anti Poaching Units (APU) in South Africa who have been responsible for the majority of arrests of poachers this year.
"These are brave men and women who put their lives at risk day and night to protect the rhinos. APU’s don’t come cheap - they require high tech bullet proof vests, guns, night vision... This is where we need to channel funds to, as well as buying more tracking collars, camera traps and helping to pay for horn treatments "
So Angie has brought back "Thandi's Fund Raiser" with vengeance - this time (alongside another Isle of Man auction on the 21st September) she has put her own money into creating merchandise such as mugs, t-shirts, fridge magnets and even clocks which she sells online and so far has shipped right across the globe; she has held a stand at a local two-day agricultural show and has committed to shave her hair off after the auction (representing the lost rhino horns that are made of the same properties as hair and finger-nails).
"When they get poached their horn will never re-grow unlike my hair that will."
This year Angie is working closely with Chipembere Rhino Foundation and Dr William Fowlds creating a First Response Trust which will, in the event that a rhino is brutally poached and survives, assist with providing tracking collars, treatments and setting up Anti-Poaching Units. She also continues to support Kariega Game Reserve for any ongoing treatments that Thandi requires.
This is such a worthwhile cause, and if anyone is interested in finding out more you can find Thandi’s Fund Raiser on Facebook:
For those who are not on Facebook but would like to view and possibly buy merchandise as well as sponsor Angie's hair shave go to:
Or if anyone is wishing to find out more and would like to contact Angie personally then email her at:
If you want to help out but don't have lots of cash create your own event! This summer I am working with two children who desperately wanted to help with the cause, so we have arranged a bake sale, with all the funds going directly to Thandi's Fund Raiser. The more awareness raised the better... and knowing the money is going to a good cause? Priceless.
A message from Angie: "I would just like to thank Kariega Game Reserve and Dr William Fowlds for the opportunity to help with the rhino’s during my volunteering experience. Gap Africa Projects for sponsoring our World Rhino T-shirts. Mr Raymond Cox of Milan Vets who is supporting Thandi’s Fund Raiser this year and who will be our auctioneer on the 21st September. Marco and Collette Leonetti of Utopia Hair Salon for their continued support and supporting our first Rhino Friday dress down day. Pauline Spicer for all her hard work in helping to promote and organise events and to my parents Sue and Stephen Goody for their patients in having their house being taken over by rhino merchandise and for their continued beliefs and support."