INNOVATION DRIVES FASHION FORWARD

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Dialogue with Kevin Pietersen: Endangered Species Protection Needs Entrepreneurship and Professional Attitude

May 30,2021

Kevin Pietersen, the famous cricketer and the founder of SORAI (Save Our Rhinos Africa and India), was recently in conversation with Luxe.CO. He talked about the serious and urgent challenge that the rhino is facing.

“There are five main rhino species in the world. More than 25,000 rhinos live in the wild and over 2,000 are kept in zoos,” Pietersen said.

“According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the Black Rhino, Rhino Sondaicus and Sumatran Rhino are classified as ‘critically endangered species’, the White Rhino as an ‘almost endangered species’ and the Indian Rhino as a ‘vulnerable species’,” he added.

Pietersen said human poaching and trafficking were two of the main causes of rhino extinction. Many people hunt them for their valuable horns and two-thirds of rhinos could go extinct in our generation.

“There is precious little time to save this large herbivorous mammal that lives in Africa and Asia,” he emphasized.

The situation is getting worse.

South Africa is home to 80% of the rhinos in the world. At the end of March 2020, South Africa enforced a lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Previously, many visitors were in the park every day and poachers had no chance to kill rhinos. But now, because of the severe shortage of rangers, poachers are able to operate undetected there,” Pietersen explained.

Wildlife protection relies heavily on support from private donors, local and international members of the public and other private stakeholders.

Pietersen urged all parties to work together to tackle the biodiversity crisis, calling on brands and celebrities to act more effectively.

As a cricket superstar, Pietersen told Luxe.CO that protecting the rhino is a matter of acting with the spirit of fairness and participation. “The people who work to protect endangered species act like a cricket team that try to beat their opponents.”

On May 17, Pietersen and SORAI announced a new collaboration with HUBLOT, a Swiss luxury watch brand, to launch a collection of wrist watches. About 20% of its sales will be used to support the rhino protection team to rescue injured rhinos in the wild and protect their growth.

From Cricket to Rhino Protection: Fairness and Participation

Kevin Pietersen was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in 1980 and started playing cricket for Nottinghamshire, England in 2001. In his 10-year cricket career, Pietersen scored 8,181 runs and became a highly respected legend in cricket circles; in fact, he was known as one of the "Greatest Batsmen of All Time".

After retirement, Pietersen returned to Africa and devoted himself to animal protection. In 2018, he founded SORAI to educate the public about rhino protection and raise funds. Meanwhile, he spread awareness of the issue through his podcast Beast of Man and the documentary Save Our Rhino, which was broadcast on National Geographic Channel.

Luxe.CO: Cricket is called a “gentleman’s game”. As a professional cricketer, what’s the core spirit of the game?

Kevin Pietersen (KP): The three most important things about the “gentleman’s game” are rules, regulations and laws. In my opinion, cricket is a game that requires people to play together. It is not only about competition, but also about friendship, trust and enjoyment.

Kevin Pietersen, the batter on the field. Batting, bowling and fielding are the main components of cricket. Players are divided into two teams of 11 players each, with one team attacking and the other defending.

Luxe.CO: You’ve played cricket and now founded SORAI to protect rhinos. Why did you make these life choices? What is the intrinsic connection between these two things?

KP: Collaboration and participation are the heart of cricket, and SORAI was founded to call on people to put more unity and collaboration into animal protection. The people who work to protect endangered species are like a cricket team that try to beat its opponents.

I have devoted myself to SORAI forseveral years now. Then I started working with HUBLOT to do something special. I believe that most brands are working to make the world better. To some extent, the illegal wildlife trade has caused COVID-19. Brands, organizations, companies and governments need to work together to stop this illegal practice.

SORAI X HUBLOT: An Example of Charity Collaboration

On September 22, 2019, World Rhino Day, Kevin Pietersen and SORAI Group collaborated with HUBLOT to launch 100 Big Bang Unico SORAI wrist watches, which were sold out before the official release.

 

Most of the sales from these watches were donated to the Care for Wild organization, the world's largest rhino sanctuary, and to South African National Parks. By buying this watch,  consumers had the opportunity to contribute to the environmental protection work, including the ability to take care of rhinos, carried out by SORAI and HUBLOT.

In 2021, HUBLOT reaffirmed its support for Kevin Pietersen and SORAI, and launched the second generation of the Big Bang Unio SORAI wrist watch. The sale of the watch was limited to 100 pieces at 177,100 yuan each on the WeChat mini apps. Part of the sales revenue will be used to support Care for Wild.

 

 

Luxe.CO: Did you personally participate in the design of the new Big Bang Unico SORAI wristwatch? Can you talk about the production process?

KP: Yes. When the first watch came out, I flew to Switzerland to talk with the designers and then flew to Africa to shoot the promo. However, the new design is different in the backdrop of the pandemic. We changed the color of the wristwatch and the months to shoot. We chose to shoot in the summer rainfall months instead of the dry African winter.

Luxe.CO: What proportion of the revenue will be donated this time?

KP: SORAI will donate 20% of its sales. Another portion of the money will also be donated directly from HUBLOT to wildlife camps in South Africa. That’s an impressive number. Putting profits directly into wildlife protection is a huge leap for HUBLOT.

Luxe.CO: What's next for SORAI? Will you consider further collaboration in China?

KP: The focus of our work now is still on South Africa, followed by India. Because South Africa is home to 80% of rhinos in the world, what we need to do is to protect these endangered species. In fact, I don't see any endangered rhinos in China. That’s why I think this collaboration with HUBLOT is so important. Only through HUBLOT can we have the opportunity to communicate with Chinese consumers. We hope that everyone will support the products launched by SORAI and contribute generously to wildlife protection.

What Celebrities Can Do for Sustainable Development?

Pietersen has 2.08 million followers on Instagram. In addition to sharing his daily life, sports and entertainment, he mostly focuses on wildlife protection and fighting the illegal wildlife trade.

What’s more, Kevin and SORAI keep interacting with other social media celebrities on Instagram, such as rugby players Quade Cooper and Beauden Barrett, and Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd, with the aim of raising awareness of wildlife protection.

 

Luxe.CO: What actions do you think celebrities should take to address sustainability problems?

KP: People pay more attention to celebrities, so they have a bigger voice. I think celebrities have the responsibility to talk about their passion projects. However, many celebrities just want to gain popularity by taking photos with charities. That's not right.

Animal protection is not a publicity stunt for celebrities. It is a long-term vocation that should be carried out in an entrepreneurial spirit and with a professional attitude.

I do see lots of amazing, respected celebrities who have chosen to do something they are passionate about, such as protecting nature and Africa. Actually, it is a fascinating and passionate thing for me and it is something that I want to do all the time. Rhino protection is my lifelong vocation.

| Photo Credit: HUBLOT, SORAI

| Writer: Lingli Su, Hui Lu

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