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.