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Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching

by African Conservation Trust
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Riders at the Ride4Rhino "Paper chase" event.
Riders at the Ride4Rhino "Paper chase" event.

Dear friends and supporters

We are delighted to share a brief summary of our Equine team’s activities over the last three months.

In June, Kim Isaacs and her team hosted an Equine Ride4Rhino “Paper Chase” and Country Market event at Seaton Estate in Ballito as a fundraiser for Project Rhino.  It was an incredible event, with riders having a fantastic time, dressing up and riding along a picturesque route to the beach. Quadasi and Maqhinga was the headline act, who aside from promoting Zulu culture, traditional music and social cohesion have also been actively involved in rhino conservation, working alongside the Kingsley Holgate Foundation and Project Rhino as Rhino Art Ambassadors.  Kim and her team managed to raise a whopping R40 000 for rhino conservation and the Project Rhino horse units with this fantastic event, which we are hoping to make an annual event on the  Conservation calendar.

We would like to once again thank all our donors and partners who continue to support the work of Project Rhino and those on the frontline of the rhino poaching crisis. Your contributions and support continues to make a tremendous difference to the teams on the frontline - a huge thank you!

The Equine unit that is based in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) - the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa, consisting of 960 km² of hilly topography, has just completed their annual controlled burns to prevent wild fires from take place.  This year the Nqumeni Section was part of the burning plan and therefore there is no natural grass and feed left for the horses.  We are currently carting hay in for the horses to supplement their diets.  Unfortunately by the end of the winter months the horses do loose body condition as the nutritional value in the food is not high enough and we are finding that the horses’ hooves are also severely cracking.   It is therefore a priority for us to ensure that we stock up on good quality hay for the horses and get a farrier in to look after their hooves to ensure that they stay fit and healthy and good for their daily routine.  The horse unit proves to be incredibly impactful, and has made it much easier for rangers to cover long distances and reach different parts of the Park.

A lack of funding is a key challenge to the Horse Unit. The horse unit is currently receiving donations of bags of horse feed to sustain the unit from Epol. Ideally, we would like to increase the size of the horse unit and ranger team as the horses and rangers are working incredibly long hours.

Project Rhino is committed to supporting the Hluhluwe Imfolozi horse unit as much as we possibly can to help relieve some of the pressures that they are experiencing. Our fundraising focus for this period is on buying bags of feed, as well as supporting a groom with a small monthly salary.

We are delighted to report that as at today, 3 June 2019, we have raised $6,278.64 on the GlobalGiving platform for our mounted rangers! This has made (and continues to make) a tremendous difference to the teams on the frontline - a huge thank you to you, our generous donors!

Project Rhino recently interviewed Sibonelo, a section ranger from Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP), on the impact the equine units are having to the poaching crisis. HiP is the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa, consisting of 960 km² of hilly topography. It is home to the Big Five and renowned for its rhino conservation, breeding the species back from extinction under Dr Ian Player and Operation Rhino in the 1950s and 60s.

Sibonelo believes that the horse unit has been incredibly impactful, and has made it much easier for rangers in his section to cover long distances and reach different parts of the Park. He says, “Horses will always be the best for area coverage… we always pick up poachers’ tracks and carcasses in time because we check all hotspots in the morning quickly with horses. My field rangers prefer to ride horses in the morning to check river crossings and paths, rather than walking on foot.”

A lack of funding is a key challenge to the Horse Unit, and Sibonelo is currently receiving donations of bags of horse feed to sustain the unit. Ideally, he would also employ additional horses and team members as his rangers are working incredibly long hours; “It is difficult, because the guys work at night and you expect them to be out again in day time doing horse patrols … We are hoping that one day we will have enough staff and can split them into two teams.”

Project Rhino is committed to supporting Sibonelo’s horse unit as much as we possibly can to help relieve some of the pressures that they are experiencing. Our fundraising focus for this period is on buying bags of feed, as well as supporting a groom with a small monthly salary.

In June, there will be an exciting “Ride4Rhino” fundraising event, kindly organised by long-term supporter, Kim Issacs. The Ride 4 Rhino will take place in Ballito on 29 June, run as a Paper Chase, with teams of four horses and riders. There will also be a market, craft stalls and entertainment on the day – hope to see you there.

Roxane Losey from Global Conservation Force
Roxane Losey from Global Conservation Force

We would like to once again thank all our donors and partners who continue to support the work of Project Rhino and those on the frontline of the rhino poaching crisis.

The South African Department of Environmental Affairs released the national rhino poaching figures at the beginning of the year, revealing that a staggering 7,694 rhino have been poached in South Africa since the start of the crisis in 2010. Whilst we are pleased that the national figure is 259 fewer than 2017, the number of incursions has remained the same – 2,620 (recorded) incursions – meaning that the attack on our rhino has not decreased and the critical role of security initiatives like canine & horse units cannot be over emphasised.

It has been a busy start to the year for the horse units across the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). We must send a huge thank you to Global Conservation Force (based in the USA) and Roxane Losey in particular, who have provided phenomenal support to a number of partner reserves. Roxane has visited and assessed horse units, provided equipment, training for riders and expert advice. GCF is also helping to establish a brand new horse unit (from scratch) at Loziba in northern KZN, including building stables and paddocks. Huge thank you to BroPolo for sponsoring two horses for the new unit - we are sure it will make an immense difference in the protection of their rhino, and other wildlife.

We would also like to thank LA Zoo for the donation of deworming medication, Unicorn Tack for offering us a wonderful discount on riding equipment, and LulaRoe for their donation of clothing as well as activity books for school children in conjunction with Rhino Art. Epol has been a fantastic supporter and is sponsoring food for the horse unit at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi. Thank you, we would not be able to sustain these invaluable units without you!

We believe that these horse units are making a huge difference in the war against wildlife crime, as they allow mounted rangers to cover far more area than on foot and get much closer to wildlife for monitoring purposes. We hope that 2019 brings even more conservation success.

Delivery of new uniforms to Nqumeni
Delivery of new uniforms to Nqumeni
The new fenced paddock at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi
The new fenced paddock at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi

Dear friends and supporters

A short update on what has been happening with the brave horse unit teams.

The fencing at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park (HiP) is in its final stages and the new paddock now provides welcome space for exercise and relaxation of the horses – away from the threat of big game and predators.

HiP is KZN’s flagship reserve and has been targeted in recent years by organised crime and wildlife trafficking syndicates; this has placed enormous pressure on Park custodians, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, and their field rangers on the ground. The horse unit is one of many anti-poaching and resource management strategies that the Park has adopted to protect their rhino.

GlobalGiving donations were also used to assist Spioenkop Game Reserve (in the KZN Midlands) with 40 bales of hay as additional food for their horses during the final winter months, when food resources in the veld were scarce. We are most grateful to Epol and RCL Foods who has assisted by sponsoring Epol cubes for the HiP Horse unit in the upcoming months.

Project Rhino coordinator, Chris Galliers, met with a number of horse units at reserves in Zululand and in the Midlands over the last quarter. The most critical needs identified were:

  • Training for rangers – some have little experience in riding horses, whilst those experienced riders require training in how to deal with poaching incursions, tracking, evidence collection and reaction (often in life threatening situations).
  • Training for grooms, to ensure that the horses remain fit and healthy.
  • New / updated riding kit – much of the existing kit is second hand, or on its last legs. Whilst community reserves lack even basic kit like helmets and saddle blankets.
  • Basic veterinary care, including fly spray and tick prevention.

A surprise when visiting the Spioenkop horse unit was that a number of mares were heavily pregnant after an energetic stallion found his way into the stables. Our veterinary care bill now includes his sterilization. You win some, you lose some!

Once again, our heartfelt thanks to all our supporters who have been so generous toward our cause by donating, and sharing our message. Please remember to follow our social media pages for updates on the horse unit and other Project Rhino projects.

Horses at Spioenkop Reserve
Horses at Spioenkop Reserve

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who donated so generously to the Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching Project. After an intensive three weeks of fundraising, we were delighted to reach our $5,000 target – and be accepted as a GlobalGiving partner on their fundraising platform!

We are most grateful for all the support we have received: volunteers who helped to raise awareness, donations from the sale of designer bikinis, custom shoe-polish kits, Horse Unit caps, bespoke jewellery – and of course personal donations from you, our donors. The final donation amount of $5,054.97 was received at the end of July 2018 and this has been transferred to our dedicated ACT Rhino Fund account.

At the moment, there are mounted patrols operating in four game reserves in the Midlands, as well as KwaZulu-Natal’s flagship Reserve, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, in the Zululand region. Another two game reserves are interested in establishing Horse Units in the near future. Project Rhino has been in contact with its members and supporting game reserves to identify the most critical and immediate needs; these include feed and health care for horses, equipment for rangers, basic riding tack and the fencing of paddocks.

Thus far, we have purchased one month’s feed and will be making additional purchases later this month. We are also in the process of measuring and securing quotes for the erection of solar fencing at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. As a Big 5 Reserve, the seven horses remain vulnerable to attacks from predators, particularly lions. Once the final figures have been determined, we can then allocate funding to the purchase of riding equipment; to this end we have started measuring horses in the community-run reserves for the purchase of saddles and saddle blankets.

Section ranger and head of the Hluhluwe horse unit, Sibonelo Zulu, has reported that since the resurrection of the unit last year, the team has proven highly effective in deterring poachers. “We have big areas that we need to cover, and without horses we can’t do it. It’s much easier to do patrols on horses… Although it is very dangerous for us, it is proving to be very effective.”

 

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Organization Information

African Conservation Trust

Location: Hillcrest - South Africa
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ACTsafrica
Project Leader:
Sandy Grossmann
Hillcrest, South Africa
$6,304 raised of $10,000 goal
 
64 donations
$3,696 to go
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