If you remember the chart topping movie ‘American Pie’ of the 2000s, then you probably remember Shannon Elizabeth as the hot exchange student in the movie, but there’s more to the beautiful actress.
For years, Shannon Elizabeth has been in the spotlight as a teen idol of the 1990s and 2000s, best known for her roles on the big screen, in movies like American Pie, Scary Movie and Love Actually.
But about 20 years ago, the American pie actress gave up all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to follow her passion in saving the planet one step at a time by caring and conserving animals.
Following her decision to leave Hollywood, in 2001 Elizabeth became the founder of an animal rescue turned conservation organization called The Shannon Elizabeth Foundation. And since the Foundation’s establishment, she has been doing extraordinary work and even branched out to South Africa as an animal activist and conservationist.
In 2022, her foundation helped launch a breeding programme involving a blind black rhino called Munu.
In an interview with CapeTalk, Elizabeth and her South African husband Simon Borchert joined Sara-Jayne Makwala in-studio to chat about their inspirational work and their goal to make the planet a safer place for both animals and humans.
Also Read: HELP US SHARE MUNU’S STORY WITH THE WORLD
Speaking on how she decided on branching into South Africa, the animal activist and conservativationist gave a brief overview of her decision process; “In 2016, I started learning about conservation and I'd be wanting to revamp my charity to help more animals. I was on a journey of figuring out what that looked like. I started following a lot of organisations in conservation work and lot of people from South Africa were coming into my life. Eventually, I started listening to the universe and realised I need to come to South Africa. I raised some funds to help some African organizations and travelled around to learn more. And by the end of 2016, I decided I wanted to move here and be closer to the issues.”
According to trust worthy sources, Elizabeth and Borchert met through a mutual friend in 2015 and reconnected in 2017 through their passion for conversation. The two joined forces and a working relationship later sparked a romance.
When asked what their aim was, Elizabeth’s husband Simon Borchert answered; “For us it was about how we deploy our collective skillsets to accelerate and amplify solutions. To be far more solutions-based, we need to be investment based and not donation based. We don't just want to be another voice in the noise.”
With the aim of cutting through the noise and being an established haven for animals around the world, the couple decided to build awareness and education and introduced the concept of rhinoreview.org, which has grown into one of the largest rhino education websites in the world.
According to the couple, lack of knowledge was a huge reason for animal cruelty especially in the public domain.
We go from a horrible image of a rhino with its face butchered to give us money and there's very little in between to understand why this rhino is in this position. If you are motivated to give money, then you're also motivated to understand where that money is going and how you can better hold people accountable for the usage of the dollars and rands donated. Stated Simon Borchert.
The planet saving couple also have another passion project in the form of Munu, a blind rhino they met in the Eastern Cape while visiting.
A fellow conservationist found Munu in Addo game reserve wandering in circles and it was discovered he lost his sight. It's believed he was blinded in one eye by territorial fights and the other eye had overcompensated, leading to a detached retina.
Due to the increase of rhino killing in South Africa, Munu is somewhat of a rare specie and needs to be protected from going extinct. Which is why the foundation has taken the Rhino under their wings to protect him until he is strong enough to breed other female rhinos and sustain his specie survival.