Rhino poaching is on the increase again in our neighbouring countries – 22 rhinos have been poached this year with a total of 11 carcasses found in Namibia Etosha National Park in mid-June, plus the horrendous figure of 259 rhinos poached across South Africa in the first six months of 2022. It was therefore a huge relief to have our Department of National Parks and Wildlife officers prevent the deaths of our Livingstone white rhinos, when they arrested four people who admitted that they had come to our Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park specifically for rhinos. The work to protect this small group of rhinos continues unabated.
Imagine our surprise recently to see a quartet crossing the busy main road which goes to the Zambia-Botswana border. If readers are old enough they might realise why I refer to this amazing photo as “John, Paul, George, Rhino” (The Beatles famous photo on a zebra crossing in the UK). You might make out in the photo that Rangers were present to stop the traffic and ensure they moved across safely. Whist a rare occurrence it does highlight the need for our dedicated Ranger team to keep a very close eye on the rhino movements.
Our Senior Warden has said that the best way we can protect our rhinos is to keep them fed whilst protected within the Park. August and the dry season has descended on us again and we are working on finding supplementary feed for our 10 rhinos to help our Rangers to keep them from roaming too far from their protected home. Our two sweet babies – Nalumango and Mutinta who are named after the Zambian Vice President and Zambia’s First lady – need their Mums to be well fed to produce milk for them to thrive.
Last year Keld and Tracey stepped up and helped us in organising farmers from Choma, our neighbouring town, to donate hay for the rhinos. The 100 hay bales (worth $2,500) kept our rhinos happy in the 2021 dry season. On Keld’s birthday in June of this year, he was surprised by having a private visit to see the rhinos, plus his own photoshoot from our local award-winning photographer- Tony from Adventure Media. Keld didn’t know of the baby rhinos and we were even more delighted that we found little Mutinta, who was similar in age to his daughter Emilie, and generated some family memories for them. Emilie must be the youngest ever visitor to our rhinos and I am sure will be back with her family to watch Mutinta grow.
Our new more strategic approach starting soon will be to ask our many Tour Operators, who take visitors into the park to view the rhinos, to donate a small sum of their charges to help manage the rhinos needs throughout the year. Their businesses benefit from the presence of rhinos so close to the city, where they can take tourists for a unique viewing, and we believe they could be more proactive in assisting our Warden and his team to protect them.
As well as working to help the animals, we believe that supporting the Rangers is also vital. This month we have presented a “Rocket Stove” to the Rhino Team which is a more environmentally friendly cooking appliance. This was donated by the Coles family from Lusaka, who had donated to our campaign last year and featured in an earlier report. Find out more about the rocket stove and spread the word about Zambia’s Angwa Conservation’s generous offer of supplying 1 for free with every one bought.
For World Rhino Day on 22nd September this year, we will produce our own local artwork for our celebrations. An art competition has been announced this month to help us find local talent to enable us to produce local, relevant and informative information.
Really good news was received on the 11th March2022 with the birth of a baby rhino which was truly welcomed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and all our local rangers within the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park in Livingstone. Her mum Inonge keeps her safe and mostly away from prying eyes but we have this very short video clip of her just after she was born. I think that she will take over the ‘cuteness’ factor from Jack and she has yet to be given a name so why not contact us with your ideas.
At Destination Livingstone we love our art and we do have some truly impressive artists. We have run a number of art competitions over the last 2 years and we have shared some of the winners in our last report. Here are some more very innovative ways in which to represent our wonderful rhinos. It is going to take you some time to recognise all the components of both these great artworks. I challenge you to find the ‘frog’ in the painting by Claudous.
We found this wonderful image for World Rhino Day 2021 and it has given us an incentive to produce our own localised poster of what Rhinos mean to our community. We aim to have this organised for use in the 2022 World Rhino Day. We used to have a wonderful sculpture in one of our shopping malls but alas it has succumbed to the weather conditions. Seeing this bright and beautiful example from our neighbours in Zimbabwe will spur us on to having our own public art in the city to remind us of the privilege of having some of our last remaining white rhinos right here in our city.
Our picky eaters did not appreciate the moringa which was donated to us by Moringa Initiative in Zambia but they then provided some for our rangers. We have Philimon, John and Gladson in a series of photos showing off their own moringa powder – don’t they look very stern in these photos but I know they can smile and laugh!! In addition, sturdy rechargeable torches and extension leads were bought for the two teams that guard our rhinos on a 24/7 basis. With rhino poaching on the increase again in our neighbouring countries and being in a transboundary situation here in our National Park, anything that improves our rangers’ ability to protect our rhinos is a good use of your donations. They were very appreciative of the 4 new torches. We will be researching buying appropriate night vision goggles as another measure for maintaining their own safety as well as that of our rhinos.
We use social media – facebook and Instagram – to pass on information about many aspects of our work at Destination Livingstone. The poster “Ït’s all the same” was posted for World Pangolin Day in February but also passed on information about rhinos.
During the next period we will be working to ensure that there is supplementary feed available as the grass starts to dry. Whilst some areas in Southern Province have had devastating floods, we have not had big rains in and around Livingstone and we now need to prepare for the second half of the year when grass becomes scarce. We have plenty to do together to keep our Livingstone rhinos safe and secure.
We thank you for your support.
July 2021 We started our fundraising campaign
We started out on a fundraising campaign "FEED A HERO, BE A HERO", when we submitted an application to the GLOBALGIVING ACCELERATOR PROGRAMME. Whilst I had looked at projects on GlobalGiving in the past, I had not attempted this sort of fundraising before. Once we had been accepted it was quite hectic for a small organisation but well worth it. By the end of September we raised $1,64 - more than we had a few months ago - and some more since; I have rekindled old friendships with people from around the world who so very kindly donated to our cause; we have engaged more with our wildlife rangers who protect our rhinos and we have encouraged young artists to showcase their skills through our Rhino Art Competition. In addition, GlobalGiving has allowed us to remain on their platform and some further donations have been made after the initial accelerator period.
Specific mention of the generosity of people in the neighbouring town of Choma, some 200kilometres away, showed what the rhinos mean to people from this area of Zambia. Their contributions did not come via GlobalGiving as 100 huge round bales of hay and their transport would be a bit difficult to access through GG, but it was the GlobalGiving campaign that spurred them on to help us. The contribution from the farmers and the transporter easily matched the GlobalGiving donations we received. In addition, Minor Hotels contributed $500 and a voucher for 2 nights B&B for 2 people at the Avani Victoria Falls Resort for the person who donated the highest amount. The winner said, "I live in Europe and the donation was to give something back to the community after the most magical of experiences during our visit to Livingstone a few years ago." She asked that we make use of it in a way that will add to the fundraising which we are doing locally for Christmas.
"AVANI is one of our stunning hotels within a stone’s throw of the Victoria Falls and our Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park where our rhinos live. If you feel like trying for a novel but stunning Christmas present for your loved ones, then donate to our project before the 24th December 2021 and see if you receive a really HAPPY NEW YEAR email from me."
I was so excited to see the first load of hay arrive at the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park to be received by the Senior Ranger from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife. To date we have had 3 truckloads arrive and the rhinos have been happy and protected. One more load will keep us going through to January2022.
When I met with the new Senior Warden to discuss how we would use the money raised his comment was “The best way in which we can protect our rhinos is by securing their food source. This stops them from moving outside the park area in their search for food.” In 2019 we lost 2 young rhinos who did just that and were killed in road crash. From May through to November food is scarce as this is Zambia’s dry season with no rain. This year our rains are late and very little has fallen even by mid-December. We are actively securing food for the rhinos until the new grass springs up.
Growing rhino food locally
Now we move on to determining how best we can grow food for the rhinos locally so that we can feed them during the prolonged dry season when grass is scarce. We have had interest from some local small scale farmers to plant crops that will suit the rhinos. They are picky eaters with lucerne being their favourite. This would be difficult to grow in the hottest period Sept to Dec, so we are going to pilot some other crops such as a range of legumes, sunhemp, Lupus, silver leaf desmodium plus other grasses including Midmar rye grass and Katambora cut green. By working with smallscale farmers we can try out a variety of these crops to see which the rhinos are prepared to eat when lucerne is not available.
Rhinos at the National Art Gallery of Zambia
Other ways to keep our rhinos in the forefront included an art competition which received 30 entries and we were well surprised by the talent especially from our young people.
Erick was the overall winner in the adult section and his pencil drawing had us in awe – and he had never actually seen a live rhino.
Suwilanji wowed us with her charming “Rhinbow” bringing together two great attractions in Livingstone – our rhinos and the Victoria Falls. Likewise, she too had not seen a live rhino.
Now all of the artists can say that they have exhibited at the National Art Gallery of Zambia and on the opening night of the exhibition, we sold 3 of the artworks with the money raised going into the Rhino Fund.
And as a surprise the Senior Warden organised a visit for Erick and Suwi to see the rhinos. It was a memorable occasion for them both.
Visiting our rhinos
In December old friends of mine who donated to the GlobalGiving campaign, visited Livingstone and made an excursion to take their family to see Jack and his family. They really enjoyed the experience. Maggie, their 18year old daughter gave me this short report of what the visit meant to her.
To be honest seeing rhinos in the wild is far different than seeing them on TV. Being so close to them. I can't say that I wasn't afraid for my life and every step they took in our direction made me almost unable to move and breathless. But I am guilty of having enjoyed the experience.
To know that I helped feed these not so little guys gives me peace. To be allowed by them to be so near is a privilege.
BUT I never forgot that this beautiful creature can so easily send me to heavens waiting room.
Would I do it again? I can't tell you. But was it a life changing experience? Yes. It was. And I have even more appreciation to everyone involved in the upkeep of these rhinos.
As dangerous as they are, they are like my Dad, just some grumpy vegetarians.
I just loved her description of her Dad Sean!!
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