It is a sight that could have evoked despair: a white Toyota double-cab Hilux that was leased to a conservation park for a noble cause is found battered, stripped of crucial parts and is perched on bricks. With Toyota’s involvement in anti-rhino poaching activities already intensifying, Northam Toyota’s Shaun Finn took an initiative to have the Hilux restored and donated to the South African National Parks (SANParks). The latest donation was made at the Pilanesberg National Park.
The restoration project took several months and had included body work as well as long hours of technical labour. According to Finn: “The actual parts on the vehicle can be pinned at about R125 000, while body work and technical labour amounted to R35 700 and R32 000 respectively.”
The total cost of restoration work on the Hilux is R230 000, and the project owes its success to various contributions made by Monitor Dealers and Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM). Monitor Dealers, comprising of 18 dealers who operate as satellites for TSAM’s Technical Services Department, sourced and funded the parts needed for the vehicle’s restoration.
“There was no cutting corners when it came to the restoration of this Hilux. We repaired it so that it was serviceable and respectable. The body work was in a very bad state: the roof area as well as the front fenders had been damaged and the load bin was in a terrible shape. So, we are proud to have pulled this project off – thanks to the invaluable support of Monitor Dealers and some of our local suppliers who sourced and sponsored parts needed,” says Finn.
It is not the first time that Toyota has donated a vehicle to SANParks. Recent donations include four Toyota Avanza models used for law enforcement, a brand new Toyota Hilux 2.4GD-6 SRX double-cab 4×4 used for anti-poaching activities as well as R450 000 worth of refurbishing of six vehicles and extension of their service plans.
Rhino poaching is reaching unprecedented levels in South Africa, and TSAM believes it is the collective responsibility of both the public and private sectors to extend their resources to the anti-poaching units working in the national parks and reserves across the country.
Vice President of Service, Customer Service and Future Toyota at TSAM, John Thomson, says: “Protecting our wildlife heritage is close to our heart and the plight of rhino, as well as other endangered species, is a matter that requires our attention – hence our commitment to supporting SANParks.”