Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Helping save rare rhino from a tent in his garden

MOST 10-year-old boys like to spend their summer holidays outdoors having fun.

MOST 10-year-old boys like to spend their summer holidays outdoors having fun.

William Borlase has been doing just that — but with a difference. Since May, he has spent every night but two sleeping in a tent in the garden of his home at Swiss Farm in Henley.

William is raising money for the Lowveld Rhino Trust in Zimbabwe, a game reserve run by family friends who organise the annual World Rhino Day.

Due to unrest in the country, it is Zimbabwe’s only conservation project so after visiting it last summer, William decided to help.

He chose to camp because he didn’t like the idea of staying in his tree house. “It’s too small,” he says. “I prefer the tent.”

He is following in the footsteps of his great grandmother who slept in a tent in her garden for almost a year when she was 12 or 13.

“She felt a lot healthier after it,” says William. “Then one day she decided she’d had enough and came back in again.”

His mother Tamsin admits his ancestor was an eccentric, adding: “She was seriously into girl guiding and it would have been a canvas tent in those days.” William, who started in year 6 at Nettlebed Primary School this week, has raised £70 so far thanks to donations from family friends and at school, where he gave a presentation about saving the black rhino.

He says: “I spoke to my mum about ways I could raise money,” he said. “I had a look online and thought this would be a great thing to do.

“I’ve made some sponsorship forms and I’d like to put some posters around Henley and in my school. I’m also thinking of setting up a Twitter feed to raise awareness.”

The only two days that William has not slept in the tent overnight were when he was unwell and he plans to continue fund-raising for at least another two years.

Mrs Borlase, who runs a market garden, is impressed by her son’s drive and enthusiasm. “What he is doing is super and it was all his own idea,” she says. “When he went into school with his sponsorship forms, nobody quite believed him to be honest. I really admire his enterprise.”

She added: “The black rhino project is actually the only conservation project that the Lowveld Trust is still running because it has recognised how rare thriving black rhino are.”

The trust works to increase both black and white rhino numbers. In the past five years, more than 300 rhinos have been poached.

The trust moves rhinos from high-risk areas to safer locations, treats wounded animals and helps to prosecute poachers.

If you would like to make a donation, call Mrs Borlase on 07584 080663.

l William is descendant of Sir William Borlase, the Cornish geologist and naturalist who gave his name to the Marlow grammar school.

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