The University of Johannesburg cricket club has adopted a strong stance against rhino poaching and will be coming out to bat for the endangered creatures this season.
The university’s teams will wear kit bearing the “stop rhino poaching now” logo at all of their upcoming fixtures as part of an awareness-building campaign.
UJ cricket club manager Karel Mouton said creating visibility was an important part of combating the illegal slaughter of rhinos, whose horns were used in traditional medicines throughout Asia.
According to official figures, 1 267 have been reported killed since 2008, with 281 this year alone.
Having won the National Cricket Club Championships, Gauteng Premier League and University Sport South Africa tournament on multiple occasions, Mouton said the club had a duty to use its high-profile status to positive effect.
“People hear about rhino poaching in the media but it has become a statistic only. Who cares?
“If they see the logo in the sports arena worn by fellow sportspeople, they might begin to feel differently. They might even donate to the cause or tell their friends and family what they encountered on the field that day.”
He said the teams would debut the new kit at various pre-season warm-up matches in September, ahead of the league fixtures starting in October. “We are also looking into including UJ’s junior sides in the campaign.”
Mouton said the university’s Soweto campus would also participate in the Sunday First League tournament in 2012/2013.
“Carrying the anti-poaching message into the townships is important because we want people to rally against the destruction of their natural heritage,” he said. “Many may not be aware of the seriousness of the situation and some might even have information they can pass on to authorities.”
He added that this was the first time that the club had officially supported such a community initiative and that it was a cause close to the players’ hearts.
“They are students with limited resources but everyone contributed to the costs as they realised it was an important message to take into the sporting community.”