| Oct 6, 2023
Supporting Rangers and Rhinos
A huge thank you to our GlobalGiving friends and donors for supporting the work of Project Rhino and those on the frontline of the rhino poaching crisis. Your contributions and support continue to make a tremendous difference in the battle against wildlife crime. We are pleased to share with you the latest update on rhino conservation efforts in South Africa. While challenges persist, there is encouraging news to report:
1. The current rhino poaching status:
In the first half of 2023 (01 Jan – 30 June), South Africa saw a decline in rhino poaching, with 231 rhinos killed, marking an 11% decrease compared to the same period in 2022. Notably, poaching continued to move away from the Kruger National Park towards provincial and private reserves. KwaZulu-Natal Province (KZN), where Project Rhino is based, has been severely affected, with 143 rhinos poached during this period, making up 62% of the national total. In the past decade, South Africa has lost a staggering 8,363 rhinos to poaching, with KZN alone accounting for 1,543 of these losses.
The Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) in KwaZulu-Natal remains a target for poachers and state conservation entities have implemented a number of measures to combat rhino poaching. Among these has been the establishment of a Tactical Operations Joint Control Centre, which now facilitates the SAPS deployments to HiP. The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment also made available R40 million for the repair and replacement of the boundary fence around the game reserve which is regularly breached and through which wild animals can escape to nearby communities.
2. What is Project Rhino doing about it:
From January to June 30, 2023, our K9 team has made remarkable strides in conservation efforts, successfully removing 1035 snares during their patrols, responding to 32 emergency call-outs, apprehending 5 criminals, and confiscating 1 illegal firearm (.375), along with fourteen .375 rounds of ammunition, 4 knives, and one carpenter saw. Additionally, they have recovered stolen goods from 2 incidents.
During this same period, the Zululand Anti-Poaching Airwing has logged an impressive total of 300 flight hours. Notably, the Airwing's efforts led to the discovery of a poached rhino and the identification of a vulture poisoning site. Furthermore, the ZAP-Wing has played a pivotal role in locating rhinos during dehorning and collaring projects, resulting in reduced helicopter time and cost savings for these critical operations.
Meanwhile, our Rhino Art team has covered vast distances to deliver essential environmental education and outreach programs to eager learners from schools across northern KZN. Project Rhino has also facilitated the sharing of invaluable information and resources among our members and game reserves. This collaborative effort extends to working directly with recognised conservation entities such as the HAWKS, SA Police Services, local security companies, and reserve security and antipoaching units, cementing our commitment to protecting and preserving wildlife.
3. Supporting Rangers
Our wildlife rangers, including the mounted rangers your donations support, play an essential conservation role – not only are they the first line of defence against poachers, but they patrol protected areas, monitor wildlife, engage with local communities in conservation efforts, help communities resolve human-wildlife conflicts, and assist with tourism. A core function of Project Rhino is to support Rangers wherever we can – be it training, equipment, or food and veterinary care for horses. In September we once again participated in the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Challenge, and proudly co-hosted a 100 km Run for Rangers through Babanango Game Reserve to raise much needed funded and awareness for our rangers. More information on these is available on our social media channels.
Once again, thank you for being champions of wildlife conservation. With your continued support, we look forward to a brighter future for rangers, rhinos and the preservation of our natural heritage.