Wendy Pfeiffer I have been a supporter of Veterans for Wildlife for over two years. This UK based charity is committed to the protection of wildlife and the world’s critically endangered species. By deploying highly-skilled and experienced former service personnel, Veterans for Wildlife aims to play a key role in conservation and the prevention of wildlife crime.

I have a personal interest in Care for Wild. It is where my own daughter has worked for the last year and a half. It is the world’s largest rhino orphanage and sanctuary, dedicated to providing care and rehabilitation for those animals either injured and / or orphaned due to poaching.

Since 2016, Veterans for Wildlife have deployed volunteers to Care for Wild in order to provide much appreciated and much needed training and mentoring to the anti-poaching rangers focussed on patrolling, bushcraft, arrest procedures, evidence gathering and a host of other critical skills.

Meet Pete
During a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2008 the vehicle Pete was in drove over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). He lost his driver, another friend was badly burnt and broke his legs. Pete lost both of his legs, one through the knee and one below the knee, fractured his spine which is fused now, he punctured his left lung, fractured his left collarbone and sustained burns.

Meet Arthur
Arthur arrived at Care for Wild in May 2018, a young orphaned rhino calf who had witnessed the barbaric slaughter of his mom. He was tiny weighing just 80 kg. He had a cut to his right front toenail which split the nail down to the nail-bed, and a 4-inch gash on his back that cut through cartilage very close to his spine. It was instinctive for him to try and stay close to his mother to protect her, and the poachers with no sympathy or hesitation whatsoever lashed out at him so that they could finish their heinous crime of taking his mother’s horn as quickly as possible. In the early days after he arrived at Care for Wild, he would call for his mother a heart wrenching sound and one that he should never have to make. Her death will affect him emotionally long after his physical wounds have healed.

One human, one rhino, both experienced suffering beyond anything most of us can imagine.

In November Veterans for Wildlife team tackles the question of mental health and PTSD with their Footprints of Hope project. Six carefully chosen veterans, Pete included will be travelling to Care for Wild where they will submerge themselves in a programme combining mentoring, stress management and crucially, Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)

When Pete was asked what he hopes to get out of the programme he replied:
"Now that my lifestyle has changed dramatically, I want to be able to be more comfortable with myself when I’m on my own. I want to learn coping strategies for the days when I am alone and feeling down, that I can have to pick myself back up again. I also want to be confident within myself, have the confidence to go out and do things even if it means me doing it on my own.

I shall be cycling 200 miles during the month of November in the hope of raising a minimum of £200. The combination of these two charities working together, is what has inspired me to take on my cycling challenge. The month of November just seemed the right time with Remembrance Sunday and also the commencement of Footprints of Hope. Wendy Pfeiffer