Paramount Group’s Transformer-style Parabot will be at the Rand Show this week to boost awareness of the threat to Africa’s wildlife.
The almost 10 metre high robot with the body of an Mbombe 6 armoured vehicle made its public debut at last year’s Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition at AFB Waterkloof where it was arguably the most photographed exhibit on display.
Parabot’s towering presence over the entrance to the Rand Show science and technology hall will show that the defence industry can contribute significantly to stopping poaching by providing technology, equipment and training, according to the Rand Show organisers.
To develop and promote Parabot, Paramount Group has partnered with the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, a charitable foundation leading efforts to find new and innovative ways to support national parks in South Africa and other African countries in their fights against poaching.
“#Parabot is a symbol of resistance – a symbol of the fightback and a message to the criminal gangs who are behind the slaughter that we will not give up on Africa’s wildlife heritage,” said Eric Ichikowitz, marketing director of Paramount Group. “The defence industry is in a position to strengthen conservation efforts. We have technologies and equipment that are making a real difference.”
Over the last two years the Paramount Group has committed its resources to supporting conservation efforts through the provision of aerial platforms (such as a Gazelle helicopter and Seabird Seeker), combat training programmes for park rangers and more recently the establishment of South Africa’s largest K9 facility to train detection and ranger dogs for anti-poaching patrols.
Paramount is activating a fund-raising drive as part of Parabot’s presence at the Rand Show. Visitors can make a rhino pledge by adding their handprint to the Mbombe armoured vehicle at Parabot’s feet and stand a chance to win ‘The Ultimate Bush Ranger Experience’: a day at Paramount’s Anti-Poaching and K9 Academy in Magaliesberg, including transport, breakfast and lunch. All proceeds from the Rand Show rhino pledge will go towards fighting rhino poaching.
Visitors can also enter the Parabot Selfie competition, where the best selfie with Parabot will win an Apple iPad.
Paramount will not be the only ones to have a military presence at this year’s Rand Show, which opens on Friday 3 April, as the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will be a major exhibitor. Apart from a major careers display, the SANDF will have a multitude of equipment at its outdoor exhibition areas. This will include the Ratel ZT3, Gecko rapid deployment vehicle, Badger infantry combat vehicle, Rooikat armoured vehicle, radar systems, a tactical intelligence post with working cameras, the Rooivalk combat support helicopter, Umlindi radar, a flight simulator, a dive tank and compression chamber as well as elements of a field hospital and emergency medical, disaster and search and rescue equipment.
The military will this year also be hands-on with visitors to the SANDF exhibition able to try their skills on driving, shooting and missile simulators.
The SAAF Silver Falcons aerobatic team, headquartered at AFB Langebaanweg, will perform displays as will Hawk Mk120 Lead-In Fighter Trainers from 85 Combat Flying School at AFB Makhado. Their displays will coincide with SANDF arena displays including fast-roping of specialist infantry from an Oryx helicopter, an artillery gun run, precision drill and parachute jumps (weather permitting).
The military contribution to the opening on Friday 3 will be in the form of a massed band comprising the SA Military Health Service band, the SA Army’s Kroonstad band and the SA Navy band.