A remarkable six-year-old British boy from Cambridge is spearheading a campaign to raise funds and awareness in the fight to save Kenya’s endangered white rhinos.
Frankie Benstead is in many ways your typical six-year-old. He loves playing in the woods, learning about animals, drawing, riding his skateboard as well as playing hockey and football. But he also has a deep passion and interest in rhinos.
After learning that there are only three northern white rhinos left in the whole entire world, he began to fear he might never see one in the wild for himself. This inspired him to try and spread the message that their risk of extinction is real and that poaching these endangered creatures needed to stop.
Frankie decided to focus his campaign on Sudan, Najin and Fatu, the last northern white rhinos who live at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. He is also trying to raise money for the scientists and vets working to find ways to repopulate the species.
“I am only 6¾ and I don’t really know how to change all the horrible wars and politics that allow poaching to go on, but I can do something to try and stand up for what is left. I told my Dada and Mama that I want to raise money for the armed rangers who guard the rhinos and for the dogs like Diego who help to stop poachers,” he explains.
Frankie decided to call his project RhinosUp, and he is planning to create a piece of public art in one of Cambridge’s local parks. This will be a flowerbed in the shape of a northern white rhino, planted from bee-friendly flowers. Just as the flowers rise up from the ground, he wants the rhinos to rise up from the dead.
“Time is almost up for the northern white rhino. I hope it will make us think that what has happened to the northern white rhinos is a horrible example of what can happen, like how the loss of habitats threatens our bees here in this part of the world. I hope this piece of art will remind us about how we are all connected,” Frankie said.
Working with Cambridge City Council, he is hoping to plant the flowerbed in Spring 2018 and his fundraising effort is in conjunction with the conservation charity Fauna and Flora International.
Fauna & Flora International were instrumental in establishing Ol Pejeta Conservancy as a protected area in 2003 and have been working continuously with them since then to help support their work with rhinos and other species. 100% of funds received by Fauna & Flora International from this page will go to Ol Pejeta.
Supporting Frankie is wildlife artist Martin Aveling who believes the only positive result for rhinos relies on the next generation taking up the mantle and being the wildlife guardians of the future.
“Witnessing such passion and understanding in someone so young must only be encouraged. I hope you will support him too and be inspired, as I have, to do more for rhinos. Any help you can give him will make a difference,” Martin said.
Frankie has set himself a high target of £48,000 which he came to after learning that this is the price some people will pay for a rhino horn. At the time of writing, he has already raised over £5,000.
If you would like to support Frankie’s RhinosUp fundraising campaign, you can do so via his JustGiving Page. You can also keep up to date with how his campaign is progressing by liking his Facebook page and following his Twitter and Instagram accounts.