11 min read

Protecting Rhinos From Threat

<p>Clive Reid</p>

South Africa is one of the last countries to have a significant population of rhinos left in the wild. But rhino poaching continues to escalate – with 1,004 rhinos killed within the country's borders in 2013 alone (according to the Republic of South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs).

Today's poachers use high-caliber weapons and getaway vehicles or helicopters, and are backed by well-organized international criminal networks. Countering this requires a multitude of trained and equipped people.

Nongovernmental organizations and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) grantees Space for Elephants Foundation and Wildlands Conservation Trust – in a collaboration with its roots in CEPF's investment in the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany biodiversity hotspot – have joined forces on rhino protection in South Africa and teamed up with the privately owned Thanda Game Reserve, Ezemvelo Kwa-Zulu Natal Wildlife (the provincial conservation authority), and private donors to collectively fund and implement the installation of GPS tracking devices in the horns of white rhinos.

This effort will allow wildlife managers to track the rhinos, deter poachers, and in the event the animal is killed, possibly catch the poachers before they escape with the horn. In addition, the wildlife managers learn more about rhinos and the natural habitats they depend on. Since these areas also provide food, water and other benefits to nearby communities, there is further incentive to conserve them for the well-being of humans as well as rhinos. In fact, as one of Africa's "big five," rhinos provide a major economic contribution to their host nations via wildlife-based tourism. Globally, wildlife tourism has been estimated to account for 20 to 40 percent of all international tourism. To further deter poaching, joint venture projects have been established in the communities bordering the Thanda Game Reserve. These include employing young community members as game scouts, supporting development of wildlife-related businesses and tourism projects, establishing school training programs and more. In addition, plans are being discussed with His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu and the King's Ingonyama Trust landowners to establish buffer zones where small plains game will be introduced and managed, thus creating additional income. Addressing rhino management and the poaching crisis is a group effort, and it requires a variety of agencies and people committed to cooperating strategically by combining resources and expertise. In fact, this project is also being rolled out in the Somkhanda Game Reserve with CEPF grantee Wildlife ACT. This collaboration also plays a role in achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) goals of addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society, reducing the direct pressures on biodiversity and enhancing the benefits to all from biodiversity. Follow this group of dedicated conservationists through photos depicting the installation of a GPS tracking device in the horn of a white rhino at the Thanda Game Reserve:

This effort will allow wildlife managers to track the rhinos, deter poachers, and in the event the animal is killed, possibly catch the poachers before they escape with the horn. In addition, the wildlife managers learn more about rhinos and the natural habitats they depend on. Since these areas also provide food, water and other benefits to nearby communities, there is further incentive to conserve them for the well-being of humans as well as rhinos. In fact, as one of Africa's "big five," rhinos provide a major economic contribution to their host nations via wildlife-based tourism. Globally, wildlife tourism has been estimated to account for 20 to 40 percent of all international tourism.

To further deter poaching, joint venture projects have been established in the communities bordering the Thanda Game Reserve. These include employing young community members as game scouts, supporting development of wildlife-related businesses and tourism projects, establishing school training programs and more. In addition, plans are being discussed with His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu and the King's Ingonyama Trust landowners to establish buffer zones where small plains game will be introduced and managed, thus creating additional income.

Addressing rhino management and the poaching crisis is a group effort, and it requires a variety of agencies and people committed to cooperating strategically by combining resources and expertise. In fact, this project is also being rolled out in the Somkhanda Game Reserve with CEPF grantee Wildlife ACT.

This collaboration also plays a role in achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) goals of addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society, reducing the direct pressures on biodiversity and enhancing the benefits to all from biodiversity.

Follow this group of dedicated conservationists through photos depicting the installation of a GPS tracking device in the horn of a white rhino at the Thanda Game Reserve:

The team sets off on its mission to find a white rhino and install a GPS tracking device in its horn. (Photo by Dan Rothberg)

Once immobilized, a vet checks on the health of the white rhino. © CI. (Photo by Dan Rothberg)

A guide from the Thanda Game Reserve, where the rhino was located, poses for a picture. © CI (Photo by Dan Rothberg)
Rhino monitor and anti-poaching patrol members from the Thanda Private
Game Reserve keep watch.
© CI (Photo by Dan Rothberg)
Nearby rhinos continue grazing in the Thanda Game Reserve. © CI (Photo by Dan
Rothberg)

The team sets off on its mission to find a white rhino and install a GPS tracking device in its horn. (Photo by Dan Rothberg)



Once immobilized, a vet checks on the health of the white rhino. © CI. (Photo by Dan Rothberg)

Once immobilized, a vet checks on the health of the white rhino. © CI. (Photo by Dan Rothberg)


A guide from the Thanda Game Reserve, where the rhino was located, poses for a picture. © CI (Photo by Dan Rothberg)
Rhino monitor and anti-poaching patrol members from the Thanda Private
Game Reserve keep watch.
© CI (Photo by Dan Rothberg)
Nearby rhinos continue grazing in the Thanda Game Reserve. © CI (Photo by Dan
Rothberg)

A guide from the Thanda Game Reserve, where the rhino was located, poses for a picture. © CI (Photo by Dan Rothberg)

A guide from the Thanda Game Reserve, where the rhino was located, poses for a

picture. © CI (Photo by Dan Rothberg)


Rhino monitor and anti-poaching patrol members from the Thanda Private
Game Reserve keep watch.
© CI (Photo by Dan Rothberg)


Nearby rhinos continue grazing in the Thanda Game Reserve. © CI (Photo by Dan
Rothberg)