Animal-loving staff from Cavanna Homes have some very personal reasons for supporting the homebuilder’s sponsorship of Paignton Zoo’s Great Big Rhino Project.
Sales Advisor Jess Taylor, who works at Cavanna Homes’ Fusion development of 220 new homes not far from Paignton Zoo, was born in Kenya so has first-hand experience of seeing the animals in the wild and in sanctuaries.
The Great Big Rhino Project aims to raise funds to support anti-poaching efforts as well as habitat restoration and breeding programmes through Save The Rhino International. Rhinos are often hunted illegally for their horns.
Jess said: “Poaching was always quite a big issue in Africa, not just for rhinos, and it was awful to see the orphaned rhino babies in sanctuaries.
“They have to bottle feed the babies in the sanctuaries and I know there are a lot of dedicated people working hard to reintroduce them into the wild. I’ve always favoured conservation methods which work in the animals’ natural environment, which is why I’m so glad Cavanna are supporting the Great Big Rhino Project.
“It seems that the more people know about the issues around endangered species the more can be done to help support them, which is why awareness-raising initiatives such as this one are so welcome for the rhino.”
Another Cavanna employee who has seen the animals in the wild at first hand is Jeremy Dymond, who went on a safari in Kenya when honeymooning with wife Lynda 18 years ago.
Jeremy, Cavanna’s Land Appraisal Manager, said: “We saw white rhinos in the wild at Lake Naivasha from only a couple of hundreds yard away.
“Later we went to a reserve where there was an orphaned youngster, it is thought the mother had been killed by poachers for her horns. Even 18 years ago there was a lot of concern about this kind of thing and the baby actually had an armed guard.
“We were allowed to go up to it and touch it. I remember thinking that its skin felt like it looked, quite rough.
“It was quite an experience. Rhinos are magnificent animals, at the top of an ecosystem that needs to be looked after in its entirety.
“I’m a great animal lover, so I’m really pleased Cavanna are supporting the Great Big Rhino Project.”
The project aims to bring a major public art event to the streets, parks and open spaces of Torbay and Exeter this summer, with more than 40 sponsored life-sized model rhinos each being decorated by a different artist.
Cavanna Homes commissioned artist Mandii Pope, who also worked with the firm during Paignton Zoo’s Great Gorilla Project in 2013, to help with the Great Big Rhino Project.
She said: “Dinosaurs became extinct and if we’re not careful the rhinoceros will suffer a similar fate at the hands of mankind, which can be avoided through preservation and conservation which is what Paignton Zoo excels in.”
Cavanna Homes managing director Eugene Rapson said: “The Great Big Rhino Project has really struck a chord with many people at Cavanna and we’re only too pleased once again to be able to help our neighbours at Paignton Zoo in their vital conservation work.
“We can’t wait to see people’s reaction to the finished Rhinosaur Mandii has been working so hard on.”
All the models will be auctioned in November to raise funds to support conservation efforts targeted at the rarest Javan and Sumatran rhinoceroses through Save the Rhino International.