Everyone that’s met Kylene knows her passion for rhinos. Since introducing herself to us in 2019, Kylene has been on quite the journey. Her fundraising efforts within her local community have led her on the path to begin studying conservation biology and fulfilling a lifelong dream. We asked Kylene to share her story…
My passion for rhinos started when I was five. My mother encouraged me to pick out a new toy – I chose the brown stuffed rhino with a giraffe-pattern bow-tie. To this day he stays beside me in my bedroom. My family knew how much I loved him, so whenever they saw anything rhino on their travels, my collection would grow (something that has never got old!) – along with my curiosity about and affinity for rhinos.
Fast forward many years, and I really began to feel unfulfilled at college. My love for rhinos was something I always wanted to develop into a lifelong career, but I didn’t have an academic background in conservation. I had always hoped that through hard work, passion and dedication, eventually I would find myself on the right path towards my dream. That’s when I started reaching out to many different rhino organisations for any opportunities to get involved.
When I began fundraising for Save the Rhino, I started with a sponsored 5 km run, but I soon realised that I couldn’t do that do every other week. So, I turned to baking!
More than a year later, I have baked lots of vegan goodies! From cookies, to chocolates, to breads, all rhino-shaped, of course. When my donations hit $1,000, I cried. I was so overwhelmed by the number of people who had supported me. It was at that moment I truly understood that my passion had resonated with everyone I had met in my life and everyone knew how important this fundraising meant to me.
When I spoke to people to share why I was fundraising, I was surprised that many of them had no idea of the very real and devastating effects of rhino poaching. This was something I had presumed was common knowledge. I would ask people coming to my fundraising stall if they knew why rhinos were disappearing; most said environmental changes. That’s when I fully understood the importance of what I was doing. The power of speech can be just as powerful as physical efforts.
While I have always been happy to raise donations for rhinos, my fundraising experience has helped me change focus. I have been accepted into university to achieve my Professional Science Master’s degree in Conservation Biology. My lifelong dream is to get my foot in the door to work directly with rhinos every day. And now, here I am, on the path that will lead me to my dream.
Thank you so much for saving rhinos, Kylene! Stay up to date with Kylene and her fundraising here.
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A version of this article was originally printed in our annual supporter magazine, The Horn.