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
Richard Mabanga's fully loaded Rhino ART truck
Richard Mabanga's fully loaded Rhino ART truck

A huge thank you to all the GlobalGiving donors who supported the work of Project Rhino and those on the frontline of the rhino poaching crisis this quarter. Your contributions and support continue to make a tremendous difference in the battle against wildlife crime and we value each and every donation.

Tourists and conservationists are slowly returning to our game reserves as South Africa has moved into Level Two and (finally) Level One of lockdown. Though not as many visitors as before March, and with almost no international tourists as cross-border travel is still heavily regulated. It has been an incredibly challenging few months for these conservation areas, particularly the wildlife communities who depend on eco-tourism for their livelihoods. High rates of food insecurity can still be found in these areas and many turn to bushmeat poaching – or are tempted into wildlife crime - in sheer desperation. With our partners like the Do-More Foundation, we have continued to deliver food parcels to wildlife communities across the Province, and have delivered more than 27 tons of nutritional porridge to hungry families to date. Whilst our Ranger teams continue to conduct daily patrols – checking fences, removing snares and keeping a careful watch on our rhino and other wildlife.

People are not the only ones affected by hunger and our Rhino ART facilitator, Richard Mabanga, took a break from delivering food packages and loaded his vehicle with plenty of hay to sustain our horses in northern KwaZulu-Natal. We will continue to supplement their grazing in the coming months, wherever needed.

Exciting news for the Horse Units is that we will soon be conducting training for rangers wanting to join the equine patrols at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and Spioenkop Game Reserve. This will be a huge benefit to the reserves as there are a limited number of qualified mounted rangers at the moment and it will mean that reserves can increase the number of patrols and reduce the stress and workload of existing teams. The training is generously funded by the Great Plains Foundation’s Project Ranger initiative.

A huge thank you also to Global Conservation Force, who sponsored backpacks with water bladders, solar power packs and rechargeable torches for the mounted rangers in the Nqumeni section of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. These necessities make a huge difference in their daily duties and patrols.

As one of the last bastions of black and southern white rhino populations, we remain committed to combatting wildlife crime and keeping KZN’s rhino safe. Thank you once again to all our donors for making our work possible.

GCF donated backpacks and equipment
GCF donated backpacks and equipment
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Equine Units in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi. Credit: S Zulu
Equine Units in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi. Credit: S Zulu

Dear friends and supporters

We are delighted to share a brief summary of our Equine teams’ activities over the last quarter.

The novel COVID-19 virus period has brought new challenges and opportunities for our conservation sector, as all our partner reserves have been forced to close their gates to tourists under Level 5 and 4 of lockdown over the past few months.

Fortunately, there was a significant decline in rhinos poached in South Africa under the lockdown period; which national government has attributed to the disruption of the supply chain resulting from the national travel restrictions, “We believe that the closure of our borders and the complete shutdown of international air travel removed the key way that syndicates use to supply horn to transit and consumer countries,” Minister Creecy.

A total of 14 rhino were poached in the whole of South Africa during April – the first month of the national Covid-19 lockdown. A total of 46 rhino were poached nationwide in March 2020.

In the Kruger National Park, only five rhino were poached during April 2020, compared to 46 in April 2019. Two rhino were killed in Mpumalanga in the same period, one in North West Province, and in our KwaZulu-Natal reserves six rhino were poached. There has also been a decline in elephant and marine poaching during the lockdown period.

Despite these successes, incursions into game reserves have continued. Because conservation levies have dried up, reserves have less money for conservation and protection, and are unable to contribute to their neighbouring communities. As an essential service, all equine units (as well as our canine and aerial patrol units) have remained on duty and on high alert throughout the lockdown period. With the game lodges empty, and reserves operating on skeleton staff, teams are spending long hours patrolling and making the best of their limited resources.

The long grass and thick bush in many reserves has made it impossible to ride into certain areas, but normal patrolling will resume after burning season. Staff shortages under lockdown have also decreased the numbers of riders available, but the horses are doing well. The interruption and apprehension of poachers in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in March was a key success, and no rhino have been lost in that Section since then.

Conservation is as much about people as it is about wildlife. The ongoing shutdown has meant that thousands of people living in impoverished rural communities adjacent to game reserves have lost their jobs and income. Food insecurity is growing daily and Project Rhino and African Conservation Trust have partnered with a number of NGOs in the Feeding our Wildlife Communities initiative – bringing food parcels to these desperate families. To date, more than 160,000 thousand meals have been delivered.

For more information on the Feeding our Wildlife Community Programme, as well as our teams on the ground, please follow our social media pages or visit our website.

A huge thank you to all our GlobalGiving donors who continue to support 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 to the teams on the frontline and we value each and every donation.

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Image (C) Chris Galliers
Image (C) Chris Galliers

A huge thank you to all our donors and partners who continue to support the work of Project Rhino and those on the frontline of the rhino poaching crisis. Although our game reserves are now receiving summer rain, our top priority is still supporting the horses’ nutrition with bags of feed and quality hay, as well as supporting a groom to look after them. All your donations received through the GlobalGiving platform this quarter have been invaluable in this regard, thank you!

In addition to feed and grooms, all the horse units operating in game reserves are in need of items like tick prevention, fly spray, farriers and veterinary care, as well as various training and equipment needs. Project Rhino has a number of events lined up in the next few months to help promote awareness and generate funding for the cause, these include:

  • Benny Bushwhacker: Human Nature. A comedy of conservation at the Hilton College Theatre on 18 April.
  • Skydive for Rhinos in Hluhluwe 06 to 12 May – this year’s event is backed by the Horings and Dorings Festival, who are donating R10 from every ticket sold on the 9th and 10th of May.
  • Rob Caskie: An African Odyssey on 12 May. Rob Caskie is one of South Africa’s most sought after keynote speakers and story tellers, and is supporting Project Rhino with a once-off guest appearance at the Hilton College Theatre.

Follow our social media pages for more information on these, and future events.

Earlier this month, our Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) released their official rhino poaching statistics for 2019, noting a decline from 769 poached in 2018 to 594 in 2019. Deaths in KwaZulu-Natal also declined from 142 to 133. This is thanks to the efforts of our brave rangers who risk their lives every day, as well as law enforcement officials, NGOs, and donors like you.

Although a number of media articles have celebrated the fact that we are, “Winning the war on poaching,” many experts have cautioned that this is not the case. The DEFF report also notes 2,014 incursions and poaching incidents in South Africa’s flagship game reserve, the Kruger National Park last year – that is more than 5,5 incursions a day! The State will also not publicly release the current rhino populations in the Park (for the rhinos’ own protection), but without these figures we cannot be sure how severe the problem is. Southern white rhino numbers in Kruger have declined a staggering 50% over 6 years (10,621 in 2011 to 5,142 in 2017) and the probability is that the reason our poaching numbers are declining is simply because there are fewer rhino left to poach.

We cannot let our guard down and remain committed to supporting initiatives like equine units in any way we can!

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Photo by Chris Holcroft
Photo by Chris Holcroft

It has been a particularly taxing period for the Horse Units operating in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), dealing with challenges of fire, drought and armed conflict with suspected poachers. Despite this, KZN has seen a slight decrease in rhinos poached compared to the same time last year, as state conservation authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, revealed that 113 rhinos have been killed in KZN in November - a reduction from the 121 killed during the same period last year.

Prolonged drought conditions were experienced in many of our game reserves, particularly the Spioenkop region of the KZN Midlands. Fires in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP), in northern KZN, also resulted in the burning of all available grazing for the horses. This led to an urgent appeal to the public for donations of hay, red grass and other sustenance to help keep the horses from starving. We sadly lost one horse over the period due to illness, but luckily the rains have started falling again and grazing is once again available.

Two suspected poachers were killed in HiP earlier this month. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said that field rangers were on their regular foot patrol when they were confronted by three suspects inside the park. During the contact with these three suspects, one was fatally shot and the two managed to run away inside the park. Other field rangers were then called to the area to search for the two men who had escaped.

"One team managed to track them down and a scuffle ensued when one of the two suspected poachers tried to disarm an Ezemvelo field ranger using a knife. During that scuffle a colleague of the field ranger managed to shoot the suspect when he realised that the life of his colleague was in danger,” said spokesman Musa Mntambo. The other man was able to escape. (As reported by TimesLIVE - 13 November 2019).

Ezemvelo acting CEO Ntsikelelo Dlulane praised the commitment of the rangers.

“The loss of lives is always regrettable but at times our field rangers are left with no choice but to defend themselves when their lives are put in danger. I applaud the skills and commitment of the teams involved in this incident and commend them for protecting our assets," he said.

Project Rhino remains committed to giving these brave rangers all the tools they need to keep our wildlife safe. If you would like to support the Horse Units this festive season, then please consider donating on #GivingTuesday, the 3rd of December, as GlobalGiving is providing up to $500,000 in matching funds! #GivingTuesday is celebrated world-wide as a day to support charity. It takes place on the Tuesday following Black Friday and is a great way to give back after all that shopping!

A huge thank you to all our partners and donors for your ongoing support, remember to follow our Facebook page for further updates on this, and our other projects.

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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.

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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
$7,550 raised of $10,000 goal
 
83 donations
$2,450 to go
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