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
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Support Mounted Rangers Fighting Rhino Poaching
Image by Leticia Cox
Image by Leticia Cox

It has been another demanding few months for the rangers and anti-poaching teams operating across KwaZulu-Natal, particularly in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, where the Nqumeni mounted rangers are based. In August, the Department of Environmental Affairs publicly confirmed that the KZN province was under increased attack from rhino poaching criminals;

‘“Recent trends in rhino poaching show a move away from the Kruger Park to private reserves and KwaZulu-Natal where the majority of rhinos have been killed this year… 2022 Poaching statistics show a loss of 210 rhino on state properties and 49 in privately-owned parks.  As indicated, hardest hit during this period is KwaZulu-Natal which recorded a loss of 133 rhino. This is more than triple the 33 rhino killed in the first six months of 2021.”

We were also devastated to hear about the assassination of head ranger of Timbavati Reserve, who was shot earlier this year outside his home. His death is a terrible reminder of the threats that our wildlife rangers deal with on a daily basis.

Project Rhino works collaboratively to support our rangers and address the complexities of wildlife crime. In addition to supporting the mounted ranger teams, we provide aerial, K9 and community support. In six months, the ZAP-Wing aerial response has flown 287 hours, detected 12 poached rhino, as well as 2 wounded rhinos who were successfully treated, and 4 calves from poached adult females who have been moved to a rhino orphanage to ensure their survival. Our K9 team removed 294 snares from game reserves, responded to 65 emergency call outs, and assisted in the apprehension of 21 criminals. Whilst our Rhino Art community education team has visited 20 schools and reached more than 6,800 children with their conservation message. We also coordinate training programmes for rangers and anti-poaching units, alongside our conservation and game reserve partners.

Rangers are the unsung heroes of conservation. They are protectors, they are educators, they are first responders. Project Rhino is proud to have recently completed the Wildlife Ranger Challenge for the third year, alongside 100 Ranger Teams from 16 African countries. The aim of Wildlife Ranger Challenge is to raise money and awareness of the importance of the role of rangers in protecting wildlife, habitats, communities and our planet. Ranger teams participate in a number of mental and fitness challenges, in the build up to the main event, which is a 21km run over varied terrain, in full uniform, whilst carrying 22 kg backpacks. Despite the heat, it was a very successful day in that it helped create awareness of the vital role that our Rangers play in the conservation of the world’s natural treasures.

We would like to extend a sincere thank you and appreciation to all our donors and supporters that help us keep our teams on the ground, it would never be possible without your ongoing motivation and support. Please follow Project Rhino on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on these projects and campaigns.

The Project Rhino Ranger Challenge Team
The Project Rhino Ranger Challenge Team
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From the Horses' mouth!
From the Horses' mouth!

A huge thank you to our GlobalGiving 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 and we value each and every donation. Here is a brief update on what we have been up to the last few months.

Last month, the Project Rhino anti-poaching teams were visited by the 'Guardians of Nature' film crew, alongside the Safe Harbor Foundation and Game Rangers Association of Africa. The Guardians of Nature documentary will highlight the critical role that teams like aerial response, K9 and Equine units play in protecting Earth’s wildlife and critical ecosystems.

On a similar note, in our last report we mentioned a short video on Project Rhino filmed by Big Red Design Agency. This video has been completed and is available online. Please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxwnlqfaLE8&ab_channel=BigRedDesignAgency to view.

Our field rangers play a vital role in the protection and management of wildlife and conservation areas, working in remote locations and putting their lives at risk. Project Rhino remains committed to supporting these rangers and Anti-Poaching teams working in protected areas wherever possible. We are assisting in coordinating a number of training programs for our member reserves in the next coming months, to ensure that filed rangers are fully prepared should they be faced with a poaching incident. And in July, Project Rhino Director Grant Fowlds will be attending the IUCN African Parks Congress in Rwanda to facilitate a workshop with rangers across the world. The workshop will highlight some of our work, share information and strategies and hopefully generate solutions to the current wildlife crime crisis. We are also proud to announce that we have recently been accepted as an official Member of the Game Rangers Association of Africa, member number 1938!

Conservation education, generating awareness and community support are essential if we want to win the fight against wildlife crime. In the last few months, we have continued to deliver food parcels to mums and children in crèches as part of the greater Community Upliftment programme which has now delivered almost 2 million meals to wildlife communities. The Rhino Art team are also back on the road, delivering their conservation message to schools living near to game reserves and building a new generation of conservation ambassadors.

And of course, fundraising is required to keep our projects going. As everyone is struggling with the current economic downturn, we are looking at innovative campaigns which will hopefully appeal to a large audience. We are running our annual Civvies Day for Rhinos campaign again, in which schools wear casual clothes to school on a selected a day to celebrate rhinos and wildlife. We are also a founder of the Oceans 8 Charity Swim, in which participants will be swimming 8 miles over two days to generate funding and awareness for 14 local charities. And we are working on a ‘Night at the Theatre' which will feature a celebrity comedian or historian, now that venues are open to the public again.

Please follow Project Rhino on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on our projects and campaigns, and if you can, give them a ‘like’ or a ‘share’ as these really do help. Thank you for your ongoing support, we couldn’t do it without you!

With Safe Harbor, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife & GRAA
With Safe Harbor, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife & GRAA
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Photo by Carlien Roodt
Photo by Carlien Roodt

A huge thank you to all our GlobalGiving friends and partners for your generous contributions to the project! Thank you also to RCL Foods and Cliff Wills from Ubhejane X NPO for assisting with horse feed and medication. These mounted patrols operate on shoe-string budgets and, even though they may seem small, items like these make a huge difference to the bottom line and to team morale.

Project Rhino travelled to Zululand last month to drop off some supplies and catch up with the mounted rangers and their needs. Our funding priorities remain the well-being of the rangers and horses (feed, medication and a small salary for a groom); but additional areas in need of assistance include ranger training (e.g. first aid), new riding tack and some renovations to the stables. We are delighted to have Anthony Kirkwood from Big Red Media Design assisting us with filming the horse units for a promotional video. This will be of huge help in both drawing attention to the cause and in raising additional funding for essential items.

For those who follow them, our Department of Environmental Affairs has just released the latest rhino poaching statistics (https://www.dffe.gov.za/mediarelease/rhinopoaching_2021). A total of 451 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2021: 327 within government reserves and 124 on private property. While there is a 24 per cent decrease in rhino poaching compared to the pre-Covid period, there has been a concerning increase in poaching on private properties. There were 189 arrests in connection with poaching activities last year, versus 156 people in 2020.

Tackling wildlife crime requires a holistic approach that responds to the complex range of factors that drive it. In addition to supporting equine units, we also manage a dedicated aerial patrol wing and K9-Unit; both of which continue to be vital interventions in the deterrence of would-be poachers and the tracking and apprehension of suspects. Wherever possible, we also support our rhino reserves with ranger training and equipment and the dehorning of rhinos in high-risk areas. In parallel, initiatives that engage youth, the public and communities are being implemented to build understanding at community level of the value of wildlife and biodiversity.

With our learners now back at school after the Christmas break, Richard and the Rhino Art education team will once again be travelling to communities to spread the conservation message. Together with our partners, we are delighted to have now delivered an incredible 2-million meals to wildlife communities. In a wonderful collaboration with conservation NGOs, corporate partners and game reserves, we have changed the focus of this project to include the development of nutritional gardens, crèche upgrading, water pipelines, reservoirs and community tanks, thereby moving from Feeding to Empowering the wildlife community, so leaving a more lasting legacy in terms of good conservation neighbourliness.

Project Rhino remains committed to protecting KZN’s rhino populations, and will continue to work tirelessly to combat wildlife crime. Thank you so much to all our donors and supporters for helping us keep our teams on the ground, it would never be possible without your ongoing motivation and support.

Images by Carlien Roodt
Images by Carlien Roodt
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Imphilo Entsha New Life Pre-School
Imphilo Entsha New Life Pre-School

Dear friends and supporters

The month of September is always a busy one for us, as we celebrate rhino in the lead up to World Rhino Day on the 22nd of September. It’s an intensive time of fundraising for our conservation projects like the Equine Units, but the month is also about educating and generating awareness among young and old alike. This year, we partnered with Pick n Pay School Club in a rhino colouring competition, and were delighted to have a number of schools from across the country participate in our “Civvies Day for Rhino,” whereby pupils pay a small donation to wear casual clothes to school and also use the opportunity to learn about protecting wildlife. But even more exciting was the re-launch of our Rhino ART environmental education programme on World Rhino Day, after taking a long break due to on-going COVID restrictions. Teachers and students have welcomed Rhino ART facilitator Richard Mabanga back, and have been eager to learn and creatively express their love for our wildlife.

The protection of our rhinos would not be possible without the brave men and women on the frontlines, who dedicate their lives to defending our wildlife. For the second year in a row, the Project Rhino K9-Unit were proud participants in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge - an initiative to support Rangers across Africa, who continue to see drastic cuts in resources and an increase in poaching due to the devastating economic impact of COVID-19. The K9 team participated in a number of small challenges in the lead up to the main event on the 18th of September, which was a 21 km run across tough terrain, in full uniform, while carrying a 22kg backpack and weapons. The event was a huge success, with more than 2,000 rangers from 125 protected areas in 24 African countries participating and in doing so, helping to raise more than $3M for their fellow rangers.

Finally, this World Rhino Day was an extra special one as Project Rhino celebrated its ten year anniversary: ten years of collaboration and ten years of fighting wildlife crime. Whilst we are sad that the rhino poaching crisis is still with us after so many years, we are also proud of our many accomplishments we have made in this time. These include; the founding of innovative anti-poaching units like the Zululand Anti-Poaching Wing (ZAP-Wing) and K9-Unit, reaching more than 600,000 youth through the Rhino ART (Let our children’s voices be heard) programme, supporting KZN’s equine units, the co-hosting of three World Youth Wildlife Summits, and the delivery of more than 1,5 million meals to impacted wildlife communities (in collaboration with our conservation partners).

A huge thank you to every member, partner, funder, donor and volunteer for your on-going support – we could not have done it without you. We look forward to the next 10 years of conservation action!

Rhino ART's Richard Mabanga
Rhino ART's Richard Mabanga
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Feeding Wildlife Communities - Ntabamnyama South
Feeding Wildlife Communities - Ntabamnyama South

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.

Project Rhino supports horse units operating in KwaZulu-Natal wherever it can, but primarily those based in the game reserves of Spioenkop and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park (HiP). Managed by State Conservation Authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, these game reserves protect more than 100,000 HA and include a significant rhino population (authorities are withholding exact rhino population figures for their protection). Both horse units operate on a shoestring budget and all GlobalGiving donations go directly to essentials like supplementing feed and veterinary costs, as well as a modest groom salary.

In the past few months, horsemanship specialist Mr Gordon Bailey conducted two training sessions (one week each) for the rangers operating in Spioenkop Game Reserve. Many of the trainees had little to no prior riding experience, but participated with great enthusiasm. We believe that increasing the number of horse patrols will be of great benefit to the reserve – not only in preventing poaching, but by allowing rangers to cover much greater distances than on foot patrol, to monitor game numbers and movements, as well as conduct fence patrols and search for snares. A follow up visit to Spioenkop is planned in the next few weeks, followed by training sessions for the rangers of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.

Project Rhino believes that a multi-phase approach is needed to prevent poaching and our initiatives range from urgent interventions like K9-Units and aerial patrols to prevent poaching in the short term; to community engagement and education initiatives, which help build understanding of the value of wildlife and biodiversity at community level over time. These horse units are one important tool in the toolbox, responding to the complex range of factors that drive wildlife crime.

  • In the past few months, a dedicated K9 anti-poaching unit has been established by Ezemvelo and a number of partners in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. The dog unit currently consists of two handlers and two ‘cold scent’ dogs, Doberman/Bloodhound Crosses, which can follow scents up to eight hours old. The Project Rhino K9 Unit (based in Hluhluwe town) has been providing additional mentorship and the team has already had a number of successes.
  • Whilst in Spioenkop, Wildlife ACT (a Project Rhino founding member) facilitated the dehorning of the entire white rhino population over three days - making it one of the biggest rhino dehorning operations in the province. Dehorning is a difficult, but necessary measure to prevent poaching threats – it is viewed as a temporary solution as horns regrow slowly over time.
  • Project Rhino and partners also delivered food parcels to four communities near to Spioenkop, with a focus on mothers and children. The Feeding the Wildlife Communities relief effort has now delivered more than 1,2 million meals to hungry families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

World Rhino Day in September will mark Project Rhino’s 10th birthday, and we remain committed to our goal of keeping South Africa’s black and white rhino populations safe. Please visit our website or follow our social media pages to find out more about our various projects and initiatives.

Spioenkop training (image by Gordon Bailey)
Spioenkop training (image by Gordon Bailey)
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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
$10,152 raised of $20,000 goal
 
108 donations
$9,848 to go
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