Amazing 500 miles to save rhinos
A St Leonards woman has completed her 500th marathon mile dressed in a heavy rhino suit to raise funds for Save The Rhino.
Berry White, from Filsham Drive, in St Leonards, took part in the London marathon on Sunday reaching an incredible personal milestone, and has achieved thousands of pounds in donations for her cause.
Berry’s love of rhinos has spurred her on to run many marathons - including New York, Edinburgh, Dublin, Loch Ness and now London for the eighth time - to raise funds and awareness for the endangered species.
After 20 years her suit has become an emblem of the London marathon with the other runners cheering her on. But running 26 miles in a rhino-shaped shell is not easy, as she commented: “The costume can become quite awkward and hot, the noise is immense and it gets hot and uncomfortable in there and you have to keep a firm grip on each side of the head as you run.”
After the enthusiasm of the first 15 miles she admits she started feeling the strain: “I was in that great big suit shuffling along as best I could, I felt like I could have been knocked over by a feather too.” But the crowd kept her going and their encouragment put her back in stride for the last gruelling miles. She adds: “I was exhausted yet happy and soaking up that mega atmosphere.”
In her London challenge Berry was joined by 49 others - with 16 dressed as rhinos - determined to run for this emotive cause. The Rhino Team managed to clock up the astonishing amount of £10,000 with £8,000 raised by Berry herself.
Berry’s passion goes back 30 years when she started working at Port Lympne wildlife park. From 2003 she became working in Africa itself, helping on rhino translocations alongside acclaimed vet Pete Morkel. Projects she’s been involved with include the transportation of four northern white rhinos from the Czech Republic to Kenya, and taking three black rhinos from Port Lympne to Mkomazi sanctuary in Tanzania. She said: “The rhinos are wonderful animals to work with, they have such immense power and presence, yet black rhinos are also vulnerable in their flighty and nervous nature and many of them dote on love and affection. They are surprising and intriguing animals, playful mischievous and unpredictable at times, they have strong individual characters and a sweetness of nature few people get to see.”
Her big fear is the threat these animals are now facing, especially those victim to the illegal ivory trade, particularly in China where they are thought to have healing powers. Berry’s aim is to raise £10,000; to donate or for information go to her fundraising page at www.virginmoneygiving.com.
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