Burmester was just one under par midway through his opening round at Leopard Creek, but birdied six holes in a back nine of 31 to card a seven-under-par 65 and lead by one from Austria's Lukas Nemecz.
The world number 58 set up the Birdies 4 Rhinos charity with fellow professional Justin Walters and was asked about the initiative by Sky Sports reporter Inci Mehmet during the round.
"I think you were the difference weren't you?" Burmester told Mehmet after signing his card.
"One on-course chat saying I needed to make more birdies for rhinos and boom, that's exactly what happened. What a back nine, some of the best I've played in a little while so I'm happy to do that.
"The wind was very tricky. We had up to three clubs (difference) at times and then we had nothing.
"It was moving around as well; the 15th hole tee shot was downwind, then my ball got mid-flight and went into the wind. The third shot was all over the place and then we got to 16 and there was no wind.
"But we managed to deal with it and all three guys in our group didn't do a bad job considering."
Playing partners Sean Crocker and Charl Schwartzel both finished two over par, although Schwartzel's 74 included a two-shot penalty and quadruple-bogey nine on the 18th.
The former Masters champion wrote on Twitter: "Took a wrong drop on 18 today @LeopardCreekCC was a honest mistake, head was a bit clouded and didn't think it thru.
"Only realized when I got home. Lucky for me rules are a bit softer, it used to be DQ but instead I got a 2 shot penalty. Starting tomorrow +2."
England's Laurie Canter, Scotland's Scott Jamieson and Northern Ireland's Tom McKibbin all shot 68 to lie three shots off the lead.