Gemfields PLC, the world's leading supplier of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones with its headquarters in London, has made a donation to the Game Reserves United (GRU) rhino anti-poaching initiative whereby the funds will be used to cover a significant portion of the flying costs for GRU’s aerial surveillance project for the 2015 calendar year.
The financial support from Gemfields was made in recognition of the successful sale of the exceptional 40.23 carat “Rhino Ruby” at Gemfields’ second auction of rough rubies, held in Singapore from 3rd to 8th December. The Rhino Ruby was extracted from the Montepuez ruby deposit in Mozambique by Montepuez Ruby Mining Limitada, in which Gemfields owns 75%, and was sold for an undisclosed sum at the auction.
Game Reserves United (GRU) is a collaboration of private and state reserves to the west of the Kruger Park that is working in a coordinated and proactive effort to combat rhino poaching in the area. This landscape approach helps to secure a strategically important buffer zone for Kruger National Park. The GRU initiative is coordinated under the auspices of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) through the WESSA Rhino Initiative.
Since 2013, GRU has operated a specially kitted out Jabiru J170 aircraft out of Hoedspruit to provide aerial assistance in the campaign against rhino poaching for the participating reserves. This air wing of GRU is known as GRUWing.
Ian Harebottle, CEO of Gemfields, commented: “I am very pleased that the sale of our exceptional 40.23 carat African ruby will assist in countering rhino poaching. Due to the size and character of this ruby, and the sheer magnitude of the challenge of protecting African rhinos, my colleagues and I have named it the “Rhino Ruby” and we look forward to following its progression from its current rough form all the way through to a faceted gem and finally being set in a magnificent piece of jewellery.”
WESSA is excited about Rhino Ruby being used as a platform to further raise awareness about the impact of the illegal wildlife trade (and particularly rhino poaching) on Africa. Of particular significance is the Rhino Ruby’s fully transparent voyage from southern Africa to Asia, which holds up a mirror to draw attention to the darker, illicit journey taken by so much poached rhino horn. Says Chris Galliers, WESSA’s Rhino Initiative Co-ordinator: “This generous support is much appreciated and comes at a time when we fear that fatigue in respect of rhino poaching may be setting in. This donation will go a long way in our efforts to keep one of the anti-poaching tools we have at our disposal fully operational and effective for the year ahead – a year in which WESSA, along with many other committed people fighting this scourge, will endeavour to make it a better one for the rhino than 2014.”