From Volunteer to Founder of Charity!

In 2010, Simon Jones booked on a 6 week volunteer programme through Worldwide Experience at Kariega Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Little did he know it would be quite the life changing experience it
turned out to be!
On the 2nd April 2010, Simon and his wife left the shores of the UK for what they
thought would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend an extended period living
and breathing wildlife conservation. The 6 weeks was a great experience, both from
the perspective of experiencing some of Africa’s most iconic wildlife and also
learning about conservation practices where it matters most, on the ground.
There were many highlights of the trip, including almost daily sightings of the lion
pride, which at the time included four two month old cubs, and sitting amongst the
heard of elephants trying to identify the individuals by markings on their ears (which
is harder than it sounds!). But for Simon, a self-confessed lover of rhinos, the
highlight was seeing a little white rhino calf at just one week old. “It was fascinating
to watch the little newborn try and keep up with his Mum as she grazed – a truly
heart melting experience” Simon commented.
All too soon the 6 weeks were over, and it was time to head back to the real world
and to real life, which for Simon was working in an office for American Express. But a
fire inside had been lit and it was not going to be put out easily.
It was 2 years later, in March 2012 that tragedy struck at Kariega. Three rhinos were
poached in one horrific attack. One bull didn’t survive the night, a second bull,
Themba, survived for 24 days before succumbing to his injuries, but Thandi, a rhino
cow, miraculously survived her horrific injuries.
Fuelled by his love of rhinos, an emotional attachment to Kariega and Thandi (Simon
had pictures of Thandi from his time at Kariega), and the burning desire to make a
difference in the fight to stop the level of poaching threatening the very existence of
the rhino on our planet, Simon was compelled to act.
Simon founded a UK based NGO called Helping Rhinos. The charity told the story of
Thandi, bringing a greater awareness to people around the world of the threats to
rhinos. Very quickly Helping Rhinos grew, and soon the organisation was working
with key conservation projects across Africa, including the Black Mambas, South
Africa’s all female anti-poaching unit, the Zululand Rhino Orphanage and Ol Pejeta
Conservancy in Kenya.
Fast forward to 2019 and Simon is now dedicated to Helping Rhinos having long
since left the corporate world behind. Helping Rhinos has raised close to
£1,000,000, is registered in the UK and the US, and the organisation is playing a
vital role in the protection of rhinos in their natural habitat. And Thandi has gone on
to have two ‘miracle babies’.
Bringing the story full circle, Helping Rhinos is now working with the Kariega
Foundation to help provide education programmes to communities surrounding the
many wildlife reserves in the Eastern Cape and even gives its supporters the
opportunity to ‘adopt Thandi and her family’. Helping Rhinos also runs its own
education programme called Rhinocation, which Worldwide Experience is partner in,
and together they have sent students from the UK to South Africa to experience firsthand
wildlife conservation.
What started out as a one-off Worldwide Experience trip turned into complete
change of life. Simon’s story goes to show that if you follow your heart and use the
experiences that present themselves, you can make a real difference to world that
we live in.
To find out more about Helping Rhinos, visit helpingrhinos.org or email
simon@helpingrhinos.org

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