The perilous 1,000-mile journey to save Africa’s endangered black rhinos
28 October 2022
This World Rhino Month (September), Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (Ezemvelo), in partnership with Peace Parks Foundation, started with the roll-out of a range of innovative rhino monitoring, rapid response and advanced security technologies across Ezemvelo’s rhino reserves.
Dr David Mabunda, Acting CEO of Ezemvelo, explained: “Whilst our ranger staff show a great deal of fortitude and ability to curb the scourge of poaching, it has become apparent that alternative methods of safeguarding rhino populations are needed if the trend is to be stopped. It is here where technological advances can and should come to the fore in the fight against rhino poaching.”
The first of these projects involves a test group of rhino being fitted with sensors, and the relevant reserves being equipped with tracking systems, in order to provide staff with enhanced capability to monitor the daily movement of rhino throughout these areas. This new tracking technology further assists in improving response times to incidents of poaching – hopefully leading to more rhino being saved, as well as more arrests and convictions.
The tracking and rapid response systems will be thoroughly tested to identify successes or shortcomings, and methodology and practices will be adapted accordingly before rolling it out to the larger rhino populations. Throughout the process, the well-being of the animals remains the first priority, and all of the rhino fitted with sensors will be individually supervised to ensure the absence of any adverse effects on their health and daily activities.
The roll-out of new technologies in Ezemvelo is funded by the Rhino Protection Programme, which is implemented under the auspices of the South African Department of Environmental Affairs in partnership with South African National Parks and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, and is made possible through funding from the Dutch and Swedish postcode lotteries and various other private donors and foundations.
Said Mr Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation: “Developing innovative technology solutions to help conservation agencies stay one step ahead of poaching syndicates is one of the primary focus areas of the multi-faceted Rhino Protection Programme. As the region that possesses the rhino population with the farthest reaching genetic pool, the protection of rhino in KwaZulu-Natal is of critical importance if we are to ensure the viability of future rhino population growth efforts. Peace Parks Foundation is therefore excited to partner with Ezemvelo in this suite of projects that will also include the implementation of improved access control technologies, enhanced security and surveillance infrastructure, as well as top-of-the-range digital communication systems.”