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