Dearlove helps save species
By Clare Graham
Ray Dearlove has swapped real estate for rhinos, finding a new home for the endangered species instead of Central Coast families.
The former Woy Woy Peninsula real estate agent has become a wildlife warrior, founding The Australian Rhino Project in the hope of saving black and white South African rhinos from extinction.
In the years Mr Dearlove has been campaigning to get the project off the ground, thousands of rhinos have been killed for their horns.
“I can’t imagine a world without rhinos,” the South African-born grandfather said.
“It’s a very iconic animal and probably the closest we will ever see to a dinosaur.”
“When you get involved in something like this, you are confronted by the absolute cruelty of poaching…in some cases the rhinos are actually not dead, they are stunned or drugged, when their faces are hacked off.”
Mr Dearlove, 67, said progress had been slow and steady, navigating government red tape and strict border protection restrictions.
By the end of the year, the project is expecting its first wave of rhinos to touch down on Australian soil and settle into a new home at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.
Mr Dearlove said his real estate negotiation skills had definitely come in handy in his fight to create an “insurance” population of rhinos in Australia, along with patience and resilience.
“The power of relationships has also been very important- if you’re good to people, people are good to you.” he said. “What we are doing here makes sense and is worth doing. It’s not just specifically a South African problem, and Australia has certainly been helpful in turning this dream into a reality.”
By 2019 the project hopes to relocate 80 rhinos and create a dedicated sanctuary for people to visit.