Psychology Speaking

The rhino onslaught has triggered outrage in South Africa. It's a wonderful demonstration of standing together to protect our heritage, but the question we need to ask ourselves is why many of us feel so much more for animals in distress than for human atrocities or the disappearance of traditional cultures, Gauteng-based clinical psychologist Pierre Brouard sheds some light on this:

"It's not a clear-cut answer because some people are drawn to multiple issues and give to both human and animal causes. Perhaps the most fundamental difference is that human atrocities are complicated and tied into all sorts of social, political, legal and cultural issues, whereas the situation is far more clear-cut with animals. They cannot defend themselves or prevent their own pain and are therefore the victims of forces entirely beyond their control. We have enclosed them in game reserves or zoos, and we therefore have a moral duty to look after them. Linked to this is the idea of innocence, where animals are truly "innocent" and hove done no "wrong". Hence when we see photographs of a butchered rhino or a calf hovering in confusion over its slaughtered mother, we are easily triggered into wanting to do something to prevent the horror. And so we buy bracelets and donate to charities and sign petitions to assuage our sense of rage and helplessness, allowing us to feel we are 'doing something'. We also feel a sense of ownership about rhinos. They are our rhinos; they are here and very dear to us, and it makes us feel good and 'empowered' to at least try to help to save one or two of them."

Looking Good While Doing Good

Over the past year several initiatives have emerged to raise money to help fight everything from rhino poaching and environmental degradation to HIV. Bead bracelets are a visible, inexpensive way to raise awareness and support for these issues, with large retailers rising to the opportunity to assist. Their proviso is that the monies are managed by well-respected conservation and non-profit organizations.

The Bracelet That Shakes The World

"Wear the bracelet and shake the world!" This is the message behind the Millennium Bracelet Shake the World campaign, launched in association with the Rainbow Collection and Africaignite in August 2011 and distributed through 40 Edgars stores. Representing the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations in 2000, these bracelets come in eight colors:

·         Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger - yellow

·         Achieve universal primary education - lime green

·         Promote gender equality and empower women - orange

·         Reduce child mortality - turquoise

·         Improve maternal health — pink

·         Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases — red

·         Ensure environmental sustainability - green

·         Develop a global partnership for development - blue

The bracelets are handmade by women in rural communities throughout KwaZulu-Natal. Approximately 800 headers are involved in the initiative, which aims to market one million Millennium Bracelets through a variety of channels, locally and internationally. Edgars alone is hoping to raise R700 000 by selling over 100 000 Millennium Bracelets at R19,95 each. All the monies raised support the women crafters and a range of development and conservation initiatives that reflect the eight goals. On the environmental side, Africa Ignite is involved in water, sanitation and renewable energy projects for rural schools and communities in KwaZulu-Natal.

Edgars spokesman, Lerato Zako, says they are not at liberty to quote how many bracelets have been sold to date, but that they are selling well as they are prominently positioned at the till points.

Edgars Marketing Executive Belinda Godfrey adds this is a call for action: "By wearing the Millennium Bracelet, fashionable consumers become part of the solution: they contribute financially, while helping raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals. Edgars is a proud supporter of this worthy cause. We particularly love the opportunity to look good while doing good!"

Description: The Rhino Force Bracelet

The Rhino Force Bracelet

Rhino Force is a philanthropic commercial initiative that dedicates R6,50 from the sale of each Rhino Force bracelet to the   Endangered Wildlife Trust's (EWT) Rhino Fund. Funds are for rhino and include conservation and anti-poaching activities      (such as funding trained sniffer dogs at Oliver Tambo International Airport's cargo section). Rhino Force founding member, Joanne Lapin, explains that the bracelets retail at R30 apiece, with the retailer receiving R5, EWT R6,50 and the remaining R18,50 going into the costs of raw materials, packing, distribution and to pay the people from disadvantaged communities around Gauteng who make the bracelets. "We have a wide range of retailers including CNA and we are in negotiation with GROUPON and Edgars," she says. "We even have Asian restaurants selling them to show they are against rhino poaching. Only a small percentage of Asians are involved in this racket, yet all Asians are unfairly tarnished by it." Since the launch of the campaign in August 2011, over 250 000 bracelets have been sold. Lapin also focuses on "endangered people" through the Kalahari Spa product range she distributes. "Our Kalahari Beads Project helps support Khoisan families in the Kalahari and we have a running water and education project for Khosian children, including an initiative to ensure the children continue to learn their traditional language," she explains. "The Khoisan are the world's oldest people but their culture is under threat. I want to create billboards linking the rhino and Khoisan, with a child and rhino walking together into the sunset."

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