Friday, 8 April 2016

What Sophie did next

Sophie Neville and wildebeeste
Sophie Neville leading The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2016

My dream of riding through the game reserves of South Africa became a reality. In February 1992 I flew to Johannesburg and became a horse safari guide in the Waterberg, a beautiful upland region where I was able to live in the Africa bush and spend time painting.  
Zebra by Sophie Neville
Even now, twenty-five years later, I grab the chance to return to Africa whenever I can. This March I persuaded twelve experienced British riders to take up the challenge of raising £1,000 each for Save The Waterberg Rhino and local community projects.
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The idea was to traverse 175kms of remote country while taking the opportunity to learn about rhino conservation and discover more about the Waterberg.
Sable at Ant's Hill
Since the horses live out on the reserve the wild animals allowed us to get unusually close.
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We spotted quite a few wildebeest along with warthog, zebra, giraffe, buffalo, hippo and many different species of antelope including sable, nyala and rare Livingstone eland
Sophie Neville watching rhino
Meeting white rhino was an extraordinary experience, especially since I was on horseback. They are accompanied by armed guards 24 hours of the day and have had their horns saturated in poison to render them worthless in an extreme measure to prevent their illegal killing.
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Riders were given an update on the poaching situation and urgent needs for extra protection in the Waterberg, which is home to the second highest population of white rhino in the world.
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While there are a number of complex issues to take on board, we all determined to do what we can to protect this iconic species. If you would like to get involved or find out more The Waterberg Trust have a Facebook page here. I am raising sponsorship on Justgiving.com here
Sophie Neville meeting several rhino
Sophie Neville at Ant's Nest in the Waterberg
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