Hunter Mitchell

Rhino conservationist

At only 10 years old, Hunter Mitchell is not just a national inspiration. His rhino awareness campaign has reached as far as Australia and the United Kingdom. He has raised more than R120 000 for rhino conservation. Mitchell is already changing the way youth see their ability to make a difference.

He has been named a LeadSA Youth Hero and a finalist for the Enviropaedia Eco- Logic Eco-Youth award for 2017. He flew to Australia in 2016 to receive the International Steve Irwin Visionary Wildlife Warrior of the Year Award. Mitchell creates awareness at schools and businesses and has been on TV news shows in Australia and on BBC World multiple times. He is an ambassador of Saving Private Rhino, the first rhino orphanage in the Western Cape and works there when he can.

“I have always loved the amazing wildlife all over the planet, especially in Africa,” says Mitchell. “In South Africa we are so privileged to be home to some of the world’s most incredible animals. It is sadly no secret that our rhino are in serious trouble.”

“In 2015 when I heard about an abandoned baby rhino, I knew that I wanted to help him. I was driven knowing that every rhino needed every chance possible to survive. I managed to raise a lot of money in two weeks and was invited to meet baby Osita.”

“I will never ever forget the day I met him. He was intelligent, loving and so playful. I cried when I left and on the way home because there are so many other orphaned rhino out there that need help and care.” “From there my involvement grew. I knew that money is needed for him to live safely back in the wild and big changes need to be made for him and the whole rhino population. We are almost where there are more rhinos being killed for their horns than rhinos being born.”

Mitchell shares his passion with other young people all over the world, chatting with schools on Skype about rhinos. “Just last week I was up at 5am chatting to a class in Japan, telling them special stories about my first-hand experience of how precious these animals are and that it is okay to say no to rhino horn.”

“I hope these talks end up as dinner-table discussions and that youth will start policing adults about the rhino horn trade, just like they would about running a red light or wearing a seatbelt!”

— Rebecca Haynes

Twitter: @raisebabyrhino