27 November 2017
FIGHTING FOR LIFE
Contrary to the picture of disinterested Ezemvelo conservation officials often painted in the media of late, the men and women of HiP are literally fighting for the lives of their animals and their people without rest. Rangers are out on patrol day and night, responding to alerts and pro-actively creating a safety barrier between the rhino and potential intruders. Nights are spent in the bush, double shifts worked, with many of them not seeing their families for weeks on end as they dedicate themselves to their work’s purpose.
Emotions have run high these past months, and speaking to the staff on the ground one could easily see anger, immense sadness, and utter desperation expressed all in one conversation about the attack on their wildlife, their park, their livelihood.
In control rooms nearby, rotating shifts of support teams to these rangers have eyes focused on screens and ears listening to radio communications 24/7 - collaborating with provincial law-enforcement units and closely supported by South African Police Services (SAPS).
Whilst the field staff kept up the front line, the rhino poaching crisis coupled with the impact on its staff, have kept the Ezemvelo top brass sequestered behind closed doors for the sole purpose of developing more effective anti-poaching and resource management strategies.
Through lessons learnt on home ground, as well as taking from approaches successfully implemented by other conservation agencies, various tactics have been identified that will form the focus of resources and time over the next few years.
- Firstly, this involves implementing intensive protect zone strategies to more efficiently patrol critical hotspots and protect core rhino populations within the expansive public conservation space that Ezemvelo is responsible for.
- Secondly, significant effort will be devoted towards putting in place structures and systems to solidify joint operation initiatives with national and provincial law enforcement, private rhino owners, and other conservation agencies (such as South African National Parks). Illicit rhino trafficking syndicates have no regard for national, provincial or any other boundaries, and it is therefore critical that anti-poaching and counter-trafficking operations be aligned across agencies and geographical regions.
- Furthermore, primary focus has been placed on increasing the use of technology as a force-multiplier to detection and response strategies – placing Ezemvelo one step ahead of poachers, improving effective and rapid mobilisation of available resources, and keeping field staff safer. In this regard, Ezemvelo has embarked on a journey with Peace Parks Foundation in the evolvement of HiP as a so-called ‘Smart Park’.
In October 2017, this partnership was formalised with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement through which Peace Parks Foundation committed more than R10,6 million towards the HiP Smart Park development as part of the Rhino Protection Programme.
Mr Bheki Khoza, Acting CEO of Ezemvelo, shared his hope for the road ahead: “It will be near impossible for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to succeed in its fight against rhino poaching without the involvement of local communities as well as the support of public and private organisations that go out of their way to fund new technologies aimed at fighting rhino poaching. The poaching syndicates are always devising new plans to counter the strategies we use against them. I am hopeful that the new integrated, joint operational plan that we are now embarking on will be a game changer. I am not saying that it will totally eradicate rhino poaching, but I know that it will form a critical component of efforts to reduce illegal wildlife crime activities going forward.”
24 June 2015Vietnamese youth embark on rhino conservation experience
"We are very excited to be in Africa for the first time, but we understand why we are here – we are here to learn so that we can take the message of rhino protection and conservation back to our couread more
12 May 2015 Shania Twain and Panthera Launch the #IFAKEIT Social Media Campaign to Save Leopards
New York, NY - International superstar Shania Twain and Panthera, a global wild cat conservation organization, have launched #IFAKEIT - a social media campaign to raise awareness for one of fashion'sread more
19 March 2015SANParks receives aerial support for anti-poaching operations
South African National Parks (SANParks) today announced that, as an integral part of the current strategy to combat rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park, it is in the process of applying and evaread more
17 March 2015Peace Parks Foundation adds its voice to the World Youth Wildlife Declaration
On 16 March 2015, Peace Parks Foundation added its message of endorsement to the World Youth Wildlife Declaration, which was originally compiled and signed by 150 young people from 20 countries at theread more
13 March 2015Vietnamese youth to serve as ambassadors for rhino protection
The 22 Vietnamese school-going students, who have just been announced as winners in the Wild Rhino Competition, will visit South Africa in 2015 to experience the plight of the rhino first-hand.read more
11 March 2015Helping injured and orphaned rhino survive their poaching ordeal
The Rhino Protection Programme (RPP) partners have allocated a combined R3.8 million ($311 000) in funding to bolster the efforts of the wildlife veterinary teams from both Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (Ezeread more
3 March 2015The leopard is thrown a lifeline
In time for World Wildlife Day, Peace Parks Foundation has joined forces with Panthera, a global wild cat conservation organisation, in a new partnership to protect and revive southern Africa’s leopread more
29 October 2014Rhino Protection Programme agreements strengthen Mozambique’s efforts to combat wildlife crimeread more
16 October 2014 TRAFFIC and Alibaba Group sign MoU to jointly reduce illegal wildlife trade online
On 14 October wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC and Alibaba Group announced the signing of a strategic memorandum of understanding (MoU) to join forces to address the illegal wildlife trade thread more