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FOR DR IAN PLAYER – THE FATHER OF RHINO CONSERVATION

I care not in which God you believe
Nor which religion you follow
What matters most to the planet upon which we sit
Is that you leave this place better than you found it

Look at what we have been given – and all for free
Day and night, sun and moon, plant and tree
Animals, both pets and wild
People black, white, mostly meek and mild

And yet today, there are those who ruthlessly steal and plunder
And do their greedy best to tear this world asunder
Their targets are the elephants and the rhinos
Their motives make me cry, make me wonder

But there is one man who will always take a stand
Having served his country well in a foreign land
Returned to the soil that he loved, his beloved animals to protect
He started Operation Rhino to save the few that were left

Through thick and thin, they fought the odds
Less than a thousand rhinos left, they took on the sods
Moved the rhinos to safer places, no matter the cost
Without these actions, a species was lost
Magquba Ntombela and Ian Player – such men of honour are few
They did the business, the numbers grew
With courage, commitment and unfailing care
These two went to extremes where few men dare

Well pleased, but never satisfied that the job was done
Ian changed direction and formed the Foundation
A new challenge, the focus now on education
Another mountain to climb and perhaps a little more fun
Ian’s passion a beacon, a path to the sun

He hung up his boots and life followed its course
Then twenty years later all hell broke loose
Again his rhinos under threat
Hope turned to despair
Another tough challenge to be met

The fire burns within this lion-hearted man, but his hands are tied
His eyes became wistful as thousands more died
Man’s greed is insatiable, his cruelty relentless
These ancient creatures completely defenceless

One senses the rage, the despair and the anger
For here is a man who has survived great danger
He will not give up, he will never surrender
On behalf of his rangers and his rhinos and his great rainbow nation
The baton must be passed to a new generation
‘Age shall not weary them’, we all wish it were so
Ian Player is a living legend and a true hero
Attenborough, Durrell, Fossey, Goodall, great names all
But for me, Ian Player is the one – he stands tall

Ray Dearlove
October 1, 2014

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