Former cricketer Kevin Pietersen bats for rhino conservation

Kevin Pietersen.
Former England cricket captain Kevin Pietersen. Image courtesy: IANS
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New Delhi: Former England cricket captain and a part of the commentary panel for the ongoing IPL 2020, Kevin Pietersen, says that in the midst of a global pandemic, people are starting to realise that we need to start protecting nature. On World Rhino Day, Pietersen is featuring in 'Save This Rhino - India', a National Geographic documentary that exhibits his passion for rhino conservation.

"We need to start protecting what's important to us. We need to start looking after the planet, and hopefully the last six months have been reality check for all of us to take stock of what we got, what we need to and to try to not hammer the planet as much as we've been hammering the planet. If we get rid of this planet, we've nowhere to go," Pietersen told IANSlife over phone from Dubai.

A cricketer who's had a hall of fame career in all formats of the game, Pietersen's passion for rhino conservation took shape in 2013 when he went to a safari in South Africa.

"I started to understand the dynamics around the poaching crisis and how rhinos are being killed every single day and if we didn't do anything, by 2025, we'd lose an entire species. At that stage, I thought I might as well use my profile for good. I love wild animals and the outdoors. So, I started to bang the drum about raising awareness and raising money and speaking to people, trying to get donations and stop poaching. It has been going on for seven years and I loved every single bit of it as much as I hate some of the situations and images I've seen and I've been into. I think we are starting to see some real benefit from the work so many great people are doing," he shared.

Rhinos are under extreme threat worldwide and it is mainly due to illegal poaching to source rhino horns. His dream project SORAI - Save our Rhino in Africa India - is an initiative for the ongoing preservation and protection of Rhino in Africa and India and the ongoing education, awareness and public support of this issue globally. The mission is to save rhino from extinction.

The documentary 'Save The Rhino: India' premiered on September 22 on Nat Geo Wild and features explorer Krithi Karanth. They walk in one of India's incredible forests - Kaziranga National Park - to assess the situation of rhinos in India. The documentary explores how poaching and flooding are threats to the species prized for its horn.

"We spent some time with people in villages around, schools and the Park itself looking at the stunning wildlife and scenic beauty. India is going to be so proud of the story that we tell because of how successful the conservation work is out there and how perfect they have the situation compared to many other countries around the world. They got the poaching under control and the animals are flourishing," the cricketing legend and conservation enthusiast shared.

He adds that since the river Brahmaputra floods its banks every year, they are working to launch a technology around early warning flood systems which helps with the human-wildlife conflict, and will help people and rangers help the animals out. "Evacuating before the flood is going to save a lot of lives."

Asked how the pandemic has affected cricket, he shared: "Pandemic has affected absolutely everything, all sports - but it's nice to see all sports are back on. Golf was the first sport to be back on, football is playing, cricket is playing. IPL is just started here in Dubai. It's wonderful."

Pietersen also shares a bit about his life and time in lockdown. "I was lucky, I live on a big piece of land on the countryside of the UK, I was with my family, two young children, and we had the best time. The weather was amazing in the UK. We came really close as a family. Not travelling as much as I used to travel was something we benefited from. Trained hard, became more healthy and just had the best time."

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