Rozanne fights for rhino conservation

Rozanne Visagie has turned her attention to conservation.

Rozanne Visagie has triumphed over many personal battles in her life, and now she uses her fighting spirit to spread awareness about the plight of the rhino.

One of these challenges occurred when Ms Visagie, 56, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, but knowing that sometimes “the biggest stumbling blocks become the biggest stepping stones” the Christian singer, songwriter, author and motivational speaker weathered the storm of radiation treatment. She regards being in remission as a second chance at life.

Grabbing this opportunity with both hands, Ms Visagie has dedicated her time and effort to raise awareness about the rhino poaching pandemic fast bringing rhinos to the brink of extinction.

Killed for their horns, which is valued more in weight per kilo than gold, it is sold at exorbitant prices and used in traditional Asian medicine as a curative and aphrodisiac.

In 2012, the Melkbosstrand resident used her talent as a singer and songwriter to write the song I Will Be Your Voice – a pledge to help the magnificent beasts from being slaughtered for their horns.

“I was seeing all these terrible images of rhinos with their faces hacked off on Facebook, and it really disturbed me. I couldn’t stand facing these horrible images of these amazing animals being killed like this,” said Ms Visagie.

The music video for I’will Be Your Voice, depicts two rhinos, Higgins and Lady, who escaped death after poachers cut off their horns.

“Higgins went semi-blind because the poachers cut so deep into his face that they caused nerve damage,” said Ms Visagie.

A few months after recording I Will Be Your Voice, Ms Visagie started the endangered species conservation campaign with the same name.

The organisation has held high teas, art exhibitions, art auctions and other events to raise funds for endangered species.

Ms Visagie also does a school outreach programme, where she gives talks at schools about the severity of poaching.

She has spoken at several schools, including Sunningdale and Table View primary schools, and would like to do more talks in the area and throughout the Western Cape.

She is also the co-founder of the Cape Craft Centre job creation and skills development project in Table View and sells, among other things, T-shirts, key chains, badges and bracelets to support her cause.

“We’re losing these animals at such a rate that soon we won’t have a proper breeding stock. But it’s also about more than that. We’re losing a part of our heritage. Tourists from all over the world come to our country to see the Big Five. We’re losing more than an animal. We’re losing part of our culture,” she said.

Ms Visagie released a second song about rhino poaching, Emma’s Dream, which she wrote and recorded from the viewpoint of a rhino orphan, and the music video shows footage of various orphaned baby rhinos.

Although most of this video is about the orphans and how they learn to survive on their own, a heart-wrenching part of the footage shows an adult rhino, Themba, from the Kariega Private Game Reserve, who died after he was found with his head in pool of blood with a gaping hole in his face.

These are realities that unfortunately have to be shown for people and lawmakers to take action.

Themba’s mate, Thandi was also poached, but she recovered and gave birth to a calf, Thembi. Both of them can be see in the music video.

* Visit www.iwillbeyourvoice. co za or email your questions to info@iwillbeyourvoice.co.za