Former Leighton Buzzard copper heads third fundraising trip to Africa to help stamp out rhino poaching

Former Leighton policeman Alex Jackson pictured on a previous trip to Africa. He's already raised £26,000 through his Ride for Rhinos and is about to embark on his third fundraising trip.Former Leighton policeman Alex Jackson pictured on a previous trip to Africa. He's already raised £26,000 through his Ride for Rhinos and is about to embark on his third fundraising trip.
Former Leighton policeman Alex Jackson pictured on a previous trip to Africa. He's already raised £26,000 through his Ride for Rhinos and is about to embark on his third fundraising trip.
He’s already raised more than £26k to help stop poaching

He’s already raised more than £26,000 with his Ride for Rhinos – now Linslade-born Alex Jackson is heading to Africa again to highlight and help the amazing conservation work being done by anti-poaching units.

The former Bedfordshire policeman says: “In the past two years, the rhino population has increased slightly, thanks to the amazing work done by the rangers and anti-poaching units that Ride for Rhinos supports.

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"But it’s not time to sit back and admire what’s been done. We need to work just as hard now to support the fight against wildlife crime.”

Alex will lead a group of 12, including 10 on bikes and two in a minibus. The trip will start and finish in Johannesburg, visiting Golden Gate National Park, Rourkes Drift, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and Kruger National Park along the way.

They will also visit Blyde River Canyon – the largest green canyon in the world – and Moholoholo game reserve where Alex trained as a tracker. The return journey will take in Dullstroom, the highest town in South Africa, where he filmed The World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides and The Motorbike Show with Henry Coles for the Travel Channel and ITV4.

And 66-year-old Alex can’t wait to be back in the continent he loves.

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He says: “I grew up on a TV diet of Tarzan, Daktari, Animal Magic and endless David Attenborough documentaries. The first film I ever remember watching was Born Free – with my parents on a wet day in Brighton in 1966 – and I always had the feeling I would see Africa for real one day.”

His dream came true in 2002 when he went on his first safari to Kenya: “I was bitten straight away – not literally! – by the amazing variation of wildlife.”

He enrolled on a game ranger course, then specialised in tracking and in 2016 became a certified wildlife tracker and signer.

The course was tough but Alex enjoyed every moment “because I was spending months on foot in the environment I love.”

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The former Linslade Secondary Modern student worked on a game reserve, helping out in the anti-poaching unit.

He says: “The numbers of rhinos being killed for their horns was spiralling out of control across Southern Africa. I decided to do an awareness ride from Cape Town up the west coast of South Africa and into the deserts of Namibia, visiting conservation projects along the way and blogging to my followers.”

He covered 6,000 miles on this solo journey, which also took in Zimbabwe and Eswatini and lasted two months.

Alex led the first-ever motorcycle tour to Kruger National Park in 2017. He claims bikers are used to feeling vulnerable so riding through country teaming with wild animals simply heightens their senses.

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"It’s an amazing thing to do,” he says, “so long as you follow the rules and are with someone who has experience of animal behaviour.”

Money raised from his upcoming trip will be split between two projects – one in Eswatini where it will be used for solar panels to power the electric security fence to protect the rhino population and the other to create a quarantine area for a rare species breeding programme that will include black rhinos.

If you’d like to help Alex, visit his Just Giving page for more information.

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