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Published in the Northglen News on Friday 30 March 2018

The world’s last surviving male northern white rhino

Umhlanga resident and conservationist, Carla Geyser, has expressed her sadness at the death of Sudan, the world’s last surviving male northern white rhino. The rhino died after months of poor health, his carers said in a statement. Geyser is the founder of the Blue Sky Society Trust, an NPO working to preserve and improve life for people, animals, and communities in need. Sudan, who was 45 when he died, was suffering from a string of infections in his advanced age.

His death comes as rhino populations around the world teeter on the brink of extinction, largely due to poaching. According to reports, only two now remain – his daughter, Najin, and granddaughter, Fatu. Sudan was brought to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya from a zoo in the Czech Republic in 2009. Geyser, who met Sudan during the Elephant Ignite Expedition in 2016 said meeting Sudan was an unexpected honour for both her and the team.

Shock and sadness at the death of Sudan

“It was a bittersweet experience, as we all felt completely embarrassed and disappointed in the human race that we had done this to him. I cannot describe that feeling to you in words, when you are there staring extinction in the eyes, listening to his heavy breath which is now no longer. It`s a very emotional and helpless feeling. It was also a wake-up call for us. If we don’t act now this is what could happen to our southern white rhino, our elephant, our pangolin, our lions and the list goes on. Extinction is forever.”

Save these species from extinction

“I firmly believe that each and every one of us has the power to make a difference. I try to do my part by leading humanitarian and conservation expeditions in and around Africa. You may be involved in education or online media. Together we are stronger and we need to work hand in hand and come up with solutions to try and solve this open festering wound that we have created. We still have so much worth fighting for.”

elephant collaring
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“You just have to get in your car and turn the key to travel into Africa.”

Those were Kingsley Holgate’s words to me, and it really is that simple. People are often afraid to travel through Africa, completely unaware of the vastness and beauty that lies beyond what they’ve seen on TV.

I started Blue Sky Society Trust in 2012 to raise funds for humanitarian and conservation projects around Africa, and started taking people with me on expeditions, to share my passion and open people’s hearts and minds to what Africa has to offer.

elephant collaring

Conservation Expeditions

With Kingsley Holgate as a mentor, I learned how to keep a sense of humour when travelling through border posts or road blocks, as well as why you should avoid travelling in the dark (animals tend to migrate to the road for warmth). Along with the tricks of the trade, he also taught me to slow down and enjoy the experience.

So in 2016, I led the Elephant Ignite Expedition, travelling 15,787km over 100 days, through 10 countries (South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya) – proving that an all-female expedition could safely travel through Africa.

It was incredible to see the life-changing effect that the journey had on people. Africa gets under your skin…into your soul. And I realised that I wanted to share this with more people, to share the life-changing experience of adventure and travel combined with hands-on work that makes a difference in the world.

Kasungu Waterpump

Adventure + Travel + Making a Difference

The purpose of the Elephant Ignite Expedition was to raise awareness and funds for elephants to fight the ongoing elephant poaching crisis, and in 100 days, we visited 37 different wildlife organisations doing incredible work, and donated over R400,000 to six elephant projects where we met the teams on the ground, and saw first-hand the wonderful work that they’re doing.

And now in March 2018, I’ll be leading the Journeys With Purpose expedition through remote parts of South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia, taking a limited number of people to some extraordinary places and conservation projects.

Every expedition is once-off; never to be repeated. It’s not for everyone though – it’s a fundraising initiative so you might have to get your hands dirty, help paint a school, or build a beehive fence. But it is a unique experience – sitting under the African sky, taking in the sunset and stars, cooking over a campfire, and listening to hyena cry in the night alongside the call of jackals…

Don’t miss out

If a 4×4 self-drive adventure gets your heart going, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to journey with purpose. We’ll be collaring elephants, visiting Tuli Wilderness Camp and the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, canoeing at Mana Pools, and taking in a few world heritage sites along the way…

Contact Carla Geyser on carla@blueskysociety.co.za to find out more!

* Originally published by Embark on a journey with purpose through Africa