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Our Olympian Ambassador
Tikki Hywood Trust
September 02, 2013

It is with our greatest pleasure that we at the Tikki Hywood Trust would like to welcome Kirsty Coventry to our family. Kirsty is Africa’s greatest Olympian and we are truly delighted that she has fallen in love with the smaller creatures of our country such as the Pangolin. Every ‘underdog’ needs a hero, who is willing and able to talk on their behalf. A voice is one of the first step to bring awareness to a specie's plight and helping to bring them back from the brink of extinction. Even though Kirsty's love affair started with Naia, a paralysed orphaned otter – she will be lending her voice to the other lesser known endangered species of Africa hand in hand with us, the Tikki Hywood Trust.

Here is a word from Zimbabwe's "Golden Girl" herself;

When I won my first Olympic medal the cameras were not focused on me at all. They were focused on the two fastest lanes, the middle lanes, 5 and 6. At this stage, I wasn’t even the underdog - I was nobody.

I know what it is like to be the underdog and because of that I am proud to announce that I am partnering with the Tikki Hywood Trust. This is a Trust based in Harare, Zimbabwe, that benefits the smaller, often overlooked animals: the underdogs like the Pangolin, Bat-Eared Fox and Serval.

Only in my 2nd and final lap did the commentators realise there was someone else there, someone (from the outside lane) who was to be reckoned with, someone from a small African country, a country that one would not expect swimmers to come from, a continent that one would not expect swimmers to come from! But suddenly this someone was being recognised, this someone who had gone against the grain, against everyone’s belief, stood her ground and believed in herself, believed that the underdogs deserve to be recognized, and won a Silver medal.

I know the amount of work it takes to get your voice heard and because of that I want to help the little guy, I want to help the ones that are often overlooked.

My first project is to help rehabilitate Naia. Naia is an 8-month Cape Clawless Otter that was found injured by dogs. Her back legs were both paralyzed and left dragging behind her as her front legs pulled her forward. I have been swimming with her for the last week and she has been making a tremendous recovery.

My ongoing ambassadorial role will be to help the Pangolin get onto the endangered list. The Pangolin is a much revered and respected symbol in Zimbabwe. It is held with such high regard that if found, the Pangolin must be taken to a Chief. Sadly this isn’t the case and they are being sold for export or eaten. Very little is known about these creatures but we are currently employing researchers and working with international organisations around the world to help us better understand them. Of great importance right now is to get these creatures onto the endangered list so no one is allowed to export and/or eat them. Allow the Pangolins to become protected and remain a Symbol of respect and honour to our Chiefs, not a myth we can only tell our Children about.

I look forward to working closely with the Tikki Hywood Trust and opening dialogue with all interested and caring Governments and organisations.

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