Written by Stephne Jackson, founder of WARRF
Photograph credit: Martin Knobel from Jou Ma se Clothing
Christelle van Wyk with Jon-Jon Button, one of her fosters and Stephne Jackson holding Shimmy, his brother who has been adopted
Watershed Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Fund was started in 2009 by Stephne Jackson. Having worked with Stellenbosch Animal Welfare Society for over a decade, Stephne saw the need to start a fund to help South African animal welfare organisations with specific needs and projects, particularly sterilisation drives (a subject very close to her heart), emergency medical care, rescue centres in dire straits, and organising flights for animals adopted to different parts of the country.
Stephne Jackson explains…
We’re a very small organisation. I’m mostly in the townships every day, as well as at kennels, and then I come back to organise the flights every month – and run a family. It’s truly chaos in my life but I actually get much more done on my own than I would with a huge team.
My colleague, Christelle van Wyk, helps with fundraising and communications, and, when we do outreaches, our kennel manager, Daniela Frick, jumps in too. Vet nurse, Sr Hilouise Smuts and vet, Dr Ilse Gersbach, from Stellenbosch Animal Hospital, join us on sterilisation drives. Up in Johannesburg, Sharon Banner has given us a new lease on life with fundraising throughout the year – something we just don’t have time for; she’s almost solely responsible for raising funds for our West Coast sterilisations.
We’ve achieved a lot in the last few years, including rescuing and rehabilitating over 50 dogs stolen for the illegal cross-border animal trade, helping relief efforts during flooding disasters in Missionvale, Eastern Cape, and assisting several organisations with various outreaches. We’ve sterilised on the West Coast, in Pniel near Stellenbosch, on Simondium farms in Paarl, and in Wallacedean and Wesbank Townships, amongst others. Watershed’s current big outreach involves tackling the out-of-control breeding and subsequent neglect and abuse of farm workers’ animals in Simondium, near Paarl.
Since Watershed started, we’ve flown over 2,000 animals safely to their Forever Homes with the generous sponsorship of Bidair Cargo, whom we could not do without. Their involvement with Watershed has been amazing and we are eternally grateful.
Watershed is very mobile; if we have the funds, we can basically go anywhere to help animals in need – and we do.
At Watershed’s last spayathon in Simondium (farm workers). It was a beautiful setting amongst peacocks and goats. We sterilised over 45 animals in total – 30 on the day and, over the next two weeks, another 15 were done – and it’s still ongoing.