A sip to save

Rhino Tears is a wine range that supports rhino conservation in South Africa

Rhino Tears is a wine range that supports rhino conservation in South Africa

The South African National Parks (SANParks) Honorary Rangers has developed a range of wines, Rhino Tears Wine, in partnership with the Unite Against Poaching Trust and Mount Vernon Wines, to support conservation efforts within its national parks to protect the rhino.

For every bottle of wine purchased, a percentage will be donated to the SANParks Honorary Rangers counter poaching efforts, the official volunteer organisation of SANParks.

20150831eh35The idea for the wine came about when Mount Vernon MD, John Hooper, spent a couple of days with the field rangers at the Kruger Wilderness Experience bush camp in the Kruger National Park. It was here that the idea for a wine that could raise money for anti-poaching efforts was born.

“I have had an inherent love for wildlife and as a child we would be fortunate to spend our holidays in the bush, fishing or in remote locations,” explains Hooper.

“The selling and marketing of wine is difficult and competitive, but it is rewarding. When an opportunity arises to mix work with pleasure, I jumped at the chance to give something back and spend time with good people fighting a worthy cause,” he adds.

“After discussions with the SANParks Honorary Rangers, I had a good idea on how the costs would work, as it was important to be able to develop something in which the ultimate beneficiaries were the rhinos themselves. It was up to me to create a good quality red and white wine, design an attractive and iconic label endorsed by SANParks, and make sure it was in stores, ready to sell before Christmas,” Hooper continues.

Hooper realised that he needed to create a good quality wine that wine lovers around the world would appreciate. It was also important to produce a wine that people would buy often and could enjoy immediately, as this would mean more for anti-poaching than a wine that would have been stored in a cellar for years before drinking.

The result was a good red blend made from Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage grapes that allows for easy drinking and appeals to all levels of palate. The white in the Rhino Tears series is a fruit driven Chenin Blanc, suitable for enjoying on all occasions.

“Every bottle purchased really makes a difference. The costs of the anti-poaching war is expensive and the men and women involved need all they can get against a ruthless enemy,” Hooper says.

Fighting the war with a bottle

20150831eh36Launched at the end of 2014, Rhino Tears has already raised over R 200, 000 to be used in the war against rhino poaching within South Africa’s national parks. Costing around R 55 per bottle, the goal is to reach R one million, which would go a long way to strengthen the efforts of the Honorary Rangers. The wine range, produced and bottled by Mount Vernon Wines, includes a Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Pinotage and a Chenin Blanc and is available from select outlets country-wide, or on the e-commerce site,

Rhino Tears donates all proceeds from every bottle sold to Unite Against Poaching and the SANParks Honorary Rangers. According to statistics, the poaching rate in South Africa is about six per cent of the country’s population each year, which is equal to the country’s birth rate.

“The philosophy behind the Rhino Tears Wine brand is for consumers to gain awareness of the crisis facing rhinos, raising valuable funds for the SANParks Honorary Rangers counter poaching efforts, while at the same time enjoying a glass of Mount Vernon Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Pinotage or a Chenin Blanc (responsibly, of course),” says Louis Lemmer, national chairperson of the SANParks Honorary Rangers.

“The SANParks Honorary Rangers is the official volunteer organisation of South African National Parks. Through our close working relationship with the South African National Parks counter poaching units, we know where the priority areas are. Because the SANParks Honorary Rangers are unpaid volunteers, no funds are used for administration and every  donation towards counter poaching is utilised solely for this purpose. Therefore, we have the unique ability to best utilise the resources available to make a real difference in the poaching war on the ground,” concludes Lemmer.

The Mount Vernon Wine Estate near Klapmuts in Cape Town has crafted a line of high quality, yet affordable range of everyday drinking wines. At Mount Vernon it is all about ‘Attention to Detail’ starting with the grape all the way through to the bottle. The cellar produces a limited range of award winning boutique wines that are a result of its handcrafted status.

The name Mount Vernon

The name Mount Vernon originates from two sources. Firstly, it is the name of George Washington’s home which is situated on a beautiful aspect overlooking the Potomac River, in Virginia, USA. A visit there reveals a large and well-proportioned mansion which is appealing yet unpretentious for so great a man.  The crest of Mount Vernon also has a family connection being the rank insignia of Noel Vernon Hooper who served as a Sergeant Major in an anti tank regiment of the South African Army in North Africa during the Second World War. He was captured at Tobruk and held as a prisoner – of -war in Eastern Germany before escaping and making his way through Poland and Russia to finally reach Odessa on the Black Sea.

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First published on: 18-08-2015 at 17:27 IST