Infotainment Factory: How wild England sacking changed KP's life

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Saturday, 20 April 2019

How wild England sacking changed KP's life


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Cricket greats Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Smith have spoken out on the rhino poaching “war” that has turned South African game rangers into soldiers.

Rhino conservation has become a passion project for both men and their mission has been documented in the National Geographic mini-series Save This Rhino, also featuring Australian “Outback Wrangler” Matt Wright.

For Pietersen, the mission started after he was sacked from the England cricket team in the wake of the 2014 New Year’s Test against Australia, at the SCG; the end of a 104-Test career that reaped 8,181 runs.

England had lost the Ashes 5-0 and Pietersen, who made just three and six in his final match, was cast out after the ECB determined that he had been undermining captain Alastair Cook. The public spat between Pietersen and England cricket got extremely ugly and took its toll on the superstar batsman.

South-African born Pietersen was back at the SCG with Smith last week, speaking to James Bracey for Nine’s Sports Sunday.

“These clowns (pointing to Smith) invited me out to South Africa after my last Test match that I played here, and all the controversy that followed over that couple of months,” Pietersen said.

“I needed a break. I needed to just get away from all the ins and outs, and fronts and middle pages and back pages.

“Graeme and Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis were having this cricket sixes event in South Africa, and after that they were going to do a conservation microchipping operation on some rhinos, to assist in the relocation of rhinos and all the stuff that was going on in the wildlife.

“On the conveyor belt of international cricket, you’re just in a hotel, and on an aeroplane, and in another hotel, play a game of cricket, get runs, read the paper, off you go, ins and outs.

“I sort of lost touch a lot with South Africa; I didn’t really have that proper connection with South Africa at that time. I’d just literally jumped into a career in another country and just started to feed off the conveyor belt of work; which we’re very lucky to have played sport as our jobs.”

WATCH SPORTS SUNDAY EVERY SUNDAY AT 10AM AEST!

The reconnection with home began with a phone call from Smith, inviting him to play some hit-and-giggle cricket with the added bonus of a wildlife experience.

“It was basically a lash-up [drinking together] … and then we went into the bush,” Pietersen said.

“And that emotional journey of that three days was something that just got me hooked back into South Africa.

“We did this microchipping and I just started to find out the statistics at which the animals were being killed; three animals were being killed every day. Why they were being killed, how much the rhino horn cost, what they [poachers] are prepared to do and what they’re prepared to sacrifice to get hold of the animal.

“I just said to these guys, Mark Boucher in particular, I said, ‘Bouchy, what can I do?’ And he said, ‘Well, you’ve got a pretty decent profile at the moment, it’s up there, everyone’s talking about you. You can help by raising awareness and starting to broadcast the message of the rhino and conservation’.

“So I said, ‘I’m in’. And ever since then, I’ve just been fully engaged, fully involved. I literally spend so much of my time now, trying my hardest. I raise an incredible amount of money, I dedicate my own time, I’ve just built my own lodge in the Kruger Park. I’m fully committed to helping.

“And people say, ‘Well, why didn’t you do that with other animals, you eat meat’ … there’s a big difference. The rhino is an African icon, it’s part of the Big Five. And I want my children’s children to be able to see the Big Five.”

https://twitter.com/KP24/status/1118742705868115968

Pietersen has launched his own initiative, SORAI (Save Our Rhinos in Africa and India), while Boucher began The Boucher Legacy – In Safe Hands organisation to help conserve rhinos. Pietersen became so committed that he quit English cricket in mid-2017 to devote more time to the work.

With good reason: sub-species of rhino such as the northern white rhino and eastern black rhino have been declared extinct in recent years.

Poachers target rhinos because their horns fetch enormous sums on the black market; particularly in China, where the keratin-rich horn is falsely thought to have special medicinal properties. The extent that poachers are willing to go to was highlighted recently, with a poacher killed by animals in Kruger National Park.

The poacher was trampled by elephants, then eaten by lions. Three poachers were also eaten by lions last year, in South Africa’s Sibuya game reserve.

And with the stakes escalating in the conservation battle, game rangers are now heavily-armed and instructed to shoot poachers on sight; shoot to kill, treatment that poachers are more than willing to reciprocate. It is not what the animal-loving rangers signed up for.

https://twitter.com/KP24/status/1115474310565511168

Pietersen has met many of these brave men.

“You talk about the [danger to] poachers, but what about the guys who we know - and is a good mate of mine – who actually flew into that situation there and he sees a dead person being eaten by lions. He also flies into situations - and I’ve seen it – where he’s got to shoot rhinos, because their faces have been copped in half, their eyes have been cut out, and the rhino’s [struggling for breath], its ears going and its legs going,” Pietersen said.

“Just think about how that mentally challenges the person that’s got to do this. It’s like, what about the poachers? But what about the [rangers]?

“It gets them. It properly gets them, and it hurts them. They are at war. All they wanted to do was count animals, look at the vegetation of the Kruger National Park, be a proper game ranger. They are now soldiers.”

https://twitter.com/KP24/status/1113337790689763333

Smith also reflected on the extraordinary battle being played out in the South African wild.

“There’s so many things being done, it’s become an all-out war, really, on the animals,” he said.

“It’s incredible that people are prepared to put their lives at risk to go into an area where wild animals exist. There are many fatal instances, I’m sure, of lions eating [poachers]; this one you just got to hear about.

“When you go to the area and you see people that have been involved in looking after conservation, who are now becoming sort of like a military operation, how they started their lives and where they’ve ended up now, it’s an incredible thing.

“I grew up in South Africa, I used to go to the Kruger as a kid. It was like our major holiday, to go and experience that safari, that bush experience; we all grew up with it.

“To see the attack on it has been scary. Eye-opening. The amount of money involved for that person to go and poach is life-changing for them, and that’s why they put their life at risk. It’s the kingpins who sit in their fat houses, that don’t face those dangers, [orchestrating the attack].

“There’s a lot of good people around also that are putting in a lot of good time and effort, people like Kevin, and many other organisations that are raising awareness. But it’s the people on the ground that are there fighting every day to protect something that’s pretty unique in the world.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BuWpAR6B2Vl/?utm_source=ig_embed&

Pietersen said that there was a frightening deadline in the battle to save rhinos from extinction.

“2025, if we don’t do anything about it,” he said.

“I think we are making a big play in it, the numbers have decreased this year; they’ve come down by one. Three a day were being killed, there’s only two now in the numbers.

“There are a lot of good people doing amazing work to facilitate the process of trying to stop this situation. It’s a big situation.”

-- Episode 1 of SAVE THIS RHINO airs this Tuesday at 8.30pm AEST on National Geographic.

Cricket greats Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Smith have spoken out on the rhino poaching “war” that has turned South African game rangers into soldiers.

Rhino conservation has become a passion project for both men and their mission has been documented in the National Geographic mini-series Save This Rhino, also featuring Australian “Outback Wrangler” Matt Wright.

For Pietersen, the mission started after he was sacked from the England cricket team in the wake of the 2014 New Year’s Test against Australia, at the SCG; the end of a 104-Test career that reaped 8,181 runs.

England had lost the Ashes 5-0 and Pietersen, who made just three and six in his final match, was cast out after the ECB determined that he had been undermining captain Alastair Cook. The public spat between Pietersen and England cricket got extremely ugly and took its toll on the superstar batsman.

South-African born Pietersen was back at the SCG with Smith last week, speaking to James Bracey for Nine’s Sports Sunday.

“These clowns (pointing to Smith) invited me out to South Africa after my last Test match that I played here, and all the controversy that followed over that couple of months,” Pietersen said.

“I needed a break. I needed to just get away from all the ins and outs, and fronts and middle pages and back pages.

“Graeme and Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis were having this cricket sixes event in South Africa, and after that they were going to do a conservation microchipping operation on some rhinos, to assist in the relocation of rhinos and all the stuff that was going on in the wildlife.

“On the conveyor belt of international cricket, you’re just in a hotel, and on an aeroplane, and in another hotel, play a game of cricket, get runs, read the paper, off you go, ins and outs.

“I sort of lost touch a lot with South Africa; I didn’t really have that proper connection with South Africa at that time. I’d just literally jumped into a career in another country and just started to feed off the conveyor belt of work; which we’re very lucky to have played sport as our jobs.”

WATCH SPORTS SUNDAY EVERY SUNDAY AT 10AM AEST!

The reconnection with home began with a phone call from Smith, inviting him to play some hit-and-giggle cricket with the added bonus of a wildlife experience.

“It was basically a lash-up [drinking together] … and then we went into the bush,” Pietersen said.

“And that emotional journey of that three days was something that just got me hooked back into South Africa.

“We did this microchipping and I just started to find out the statistics at which the animals were being killed; three animals were being killed every day. Why they were being killed, how much the rhino horn cost, what they [poachers] are prepared to do and what they’re prepared to sacrifice to get hold of the animal.

“I just said to these guys, Mark Boucher in particular, I said, ‘Bouchy, what can I do?’ And he said, ‘Well, you’ve got a pretty decent profile at the moment, it’s up there, everyone’s talking about you. You can help by raising awareness and starting to broadcast the message of the rhino and conservation’.

“So I said, ‘I’m in’. And ever since then, I’ve just been fully engaged, fully involved. I literally spend so much of my time now, trying my hardest. I raise an incredible amount of money, I dedicate my own time, I’ve just built my own lodge in the Kruger Park. I’m fully committed to helping.

“And people say, ‘Well, why didn’t you do that with other animals, you eat meat’ … there’s a big difference. The rhino is an African icon, it’s part of the Big Five. And I want my children’s children to be able to see the Big Five.”

https://twitter.com/KP24/status/1118742705868115968

Pietersen has launched his own initiative, SORAI (Save Our Rhinos in Africa and India), while Boucher began The Boucher Legacy – In Safe Hands organisation to help conserve rhinos. Pietersen became so committed that he quit English cricket in mid-2017 to devote more time to the work.

With good reason: sub-species of rhino such as the northern white rhino and eastern black rhino have been declared extinct in recent years.

Poachers target rhinos because their horns fetch enormous sums on the black market; particularly in China, where the keratin-rich horn is falsely thought to have special medicinal properties. The extent that poachers are willing to go to was highlighted recently, with a poacher killed by animals in Kruger National Park.

The poacher was trampled by elephants, then eaten by lions. Three poachers were also eaten by lions last year, in South Africa’s Sibuya game reserve.

And with the stakes escalating in the conservation battle, game rangers are now heavily-armed and instructed to shoot poachers on sight; shoot to kill, treatment that poachers are more than willing to reciprocate. It is not what the animal-loving rangers signed up for.

https://twitter.com/KP24/status/1115474310565511168

Pietersen has met many of these brave men.

“You talk about the [danger to] poachers, but what about the guys who we know - and is a good mate of mine – who actually flew into that situation there and he sees a dead person being eaten by lions. He also flies into situations - and I’ve seen it – where he’s got to shoot rhinos, because their faces have been copped in half, their eyes have been cut out, and the rhino’s [struggling for breath], its ears going and its legs going,” Pietersen said.

“Just think about how that mentally challenges the person that’s got to do this. It’s like, what about the poachers? But what about the [rangers]?

“It gets them. It properly gets them, and it hurts them. They are at war. All they wanted to do was count animals, look at the vegetation of the Kruger National Park, be a proper game ranger. They are now soldiers.”

https://twitter.com/KP24/status/1113337790689763333

Smith also reflected on the extraordinary battle being played out in the South African wild.

“There’s so many things being done, it’s become an all-out war, really, on the animals,” he said.

“It’s incredible that people are prepared to put their lives at risk to go into an area where wild animals exist. There are many fatal instances, I’m sure, of lions eating [poachers]; this one you just got to hear about.

“When you go to the area and you see people that have been involved in looking after conservation, who are now becoming sort of like a military operation, how they started their lives and where they’ve ended up now, it’s an incredible thing.

“I grew up in South Africa, I used to go to the Kruger as a kid. It was like our major holiday, to go and experience that safari, that bush experience; we all grew up with it.

“To see the attack on it has been scary. Eye-opening. The amount of money involved for that person to go and poach is life-changing for them, and that’s why they put their life at risk. It’s the kingpins who sit in their fat houses, that don’t face those dangers, [orchestrating the attack].

“There’s a lot of good people around also that are putting in a lot of good time and effort, people like Kevin, and many other organisations that are raising awareness. But it’s the people on the ground that are there fighting every day to protect something that’s pretty unique in the world.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BuWpAR6B2Vl/?utm_source=ig_embed&

Pietersen said that there was a frightening deadline in the battle to save rhinos from extinction.

“2025, if we don’t do anything about it,” he said.

“I think we are making a big play in it, the numbers have decreased this year; they’ve come down by one. Three a day were being killed, there’s only two now in the numbers.

“There are a lot of good people doing amazing work to facilitate the process of trying to stop this situation. It’s a big situation.”

-- Episode 1 of SAVE THIS RHINO airs this Tuesday at 8.30pm AEST on National Geographic.

http://bit.ly/2ILFHV5
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