Kiwi 'bros' take rhino survival to new heights
Rhianna the rhino is petite by her species' standards. At eight kilograms, she is significantly lighter than the average white rhino, which weighs in at 3500kg.
But "eight Kiwi bros" felt the weight of Rhianna - a purpose-built endurance rubber rhino suit - for six days through African heat and sub-zero temperatures, as they carried her up the 5895-metre Mt Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Save the Rhino Foundation.
The "KilimanjaBROs" - Michael Brabant, Joshua Preston, Sam Halse, Ollie Wards, Josh Harris, Chris Henderson, Alex Dyson and Michael Grieve - are mates, currently spread across Europe, who came together for an African adventure and a worthy cause.
"We wanted to raise money for a charity that was relevant to the mission. The rhino is in serious danger and it only seemed fitting that this charity [Save the Rhinos] was the benefactor of our efforts," Preston said.
Ravaged by poaching, 95 per cent of all the rhinos across the world have now been killed, according to Save the Rhinos. In Africa, there are now just 4880 black rhino remaining and 20,165 white rhino.
But conservation efforts have seen the populations of white rhino begin to increase by around 9.5 per cent a year, and black rhinos around 6 per cent, since 2007.
The suit was not built for speed or comfort, but the biggest problem was seeing where they were going as they scaled Kilimanjaro.
"The weight was not the issue, visibility was. Being able to move in this suit while still keeping pace was the most challenging part for all the boys," Grieve said.
After night climbs, freezing temperatures and changing weather, the bros reached the summit of the world's highest free-standing mountain last Sunday.
"Leaving at midnight, six hours later we caught sunrise on the roof of Africa. It was a 13-hour trek, we were exhausted but a day to remember - a huge achievement from all the boys," Grieve said.
The KilmanjaBROs have so far raised $15,807 for the Save the Rhinos Foundation.
"It was a pretty ridiculous adventure.
"Now that we have completed it, we can look back with a bit of pride, very cool to see what has been accomplished."
Sunday Star Times