Boucher continues to live on his own terms

Last Updated 20 December 2013, 19:22 IST

Mark Boucher’s fighting spirit on the cricketing ground has been a stuff of legend in South Africa even nearly two years after an accident ended his cricketing career in an unfortunate manner.

The dislodged bail hit the cornea of Boucher’s eye while keeping for South Africa in a warm-up game against Somerset at Taunton on July 9, 2012 ahead of the Test series against England.

Despite an immediate surgery in London and five more procedures in Cape Town, he never really regained his eyesight properly. But that didn’t diminish Boucher’s fighting spirit, but he channelized it to a different route – saving rhinos in Africa from extinction.

“I have loved the bush since a young age and spend as much time as I can in the bush and researching the Rhino. Of course, I have always been passionate about wildlife, with the crisis around the Rhino and possible extinction of them it seemed an obvious and necessary choice to start the Save Rhino campaign,” Boucher, owner of a record 999 dismissals in international cricket, told Deccan Herald.

Not the one to approach a task casually, Boucher has taken the job in all earnestness. “It involves a group of us going on a Game capture where the Rhino are located from a helicopter and then darted by a vet. Once the animal is sedated, a small piece of its horn is extracted without hurting the rhino, and that extract is placed on a DNA data base,” said Boucher.

“In addition each rhino is tagged and numbered to keep a record of rhinos in South Africa. Our intention is to get all 15,000 Rhinos on the DNA data-base with the Onderstepoort Veterinary Clinic. Once that is achieved they can be monitored geographically and will be easily traced. We have recently raised enough money to buy a DNA Coding Machine that was the original intention of the NPC so that is a huge feat for us,” he added.

Boucher is not alone in his venture, and has the support from Albie Morkel, South African all-rounder and a close friend. “Albie loves the bush as do I. We have a shared house in a nature reserve in the Limpopo Province. The SAB-Boucher NPC project is an independent one at the moment, albeit it is a synergy with Castle. I look forward to Albie getting involved more once his cricket days phase out, as it was originally our joint idea.”

However, Boucher still keeps in touch with his former South African teammates, particularly Jacques Kallis with whom he has started producing a wine label. “Jacques has been a great friend over the years, and it has intensified by the time we spent behind the wicket – he at the slips and I am as the stumper. We have developed The Innings wine – both in Red and White -- as we both appreciate good wine, and it’s a celebration of our career together. We sip it when we sit around the fire place – wine and old stories go well, aren’t they?.”

Boucher, who picked the epic one-dayer against Australia in Johannesburg when SA chased down 438 as his favourite moment, has also renewed his passion for an old love – golf, and of course, in the company of Kallis. “I’m a very keen golfer. Jacques and I recently played in the Dunhill in Scotland and that was an incredible opportunity! Golf is one of the sports that I am still able to play even though I have very little vision in my left eye.”

So, does he miss cricket? “Of course, playing the game, taking some good catches, playing a match-winning innings – I miss those moments. But I have learned to adjust to that as I have lot of jobs at my hand to concentrate.”

(Published 20 December 2013, 19:22 IST)

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