A solar-powered 'Meerkat' is protecting South Africa's rhinos
17 February 2020
This week, Limpopo National Park (LNP) celebrated its 16th anniversary. Mozambique proclaimed the Park on 27 November 2001 and requested Peace Parks Foundation’s assistance in overseeing the park’s development as a Southern African Development Community (SADC) approved project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through KfW, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the World Bank.
The ceremony was attended by district administration officials, community leaders, representatives from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, and media. Celebrations included demonstrations by the local ranger force, theatre and singing performances and ended with attendees sharing a meal at a picnic site overlooking the beautiful Massingir dam.
The highlight of the day was the official opening of the new Macavene Field Ranger base funded by Peace Parks Foundation.
The new ranger base functions primarily as headquarters for protection operations in the southern region of the Park. Previously, rangers deployed from this area were accommodated in a tented camp very close to where the new base has now been built. The tented camp did not offer conducive living conditions, nor did it have sufficient space to accommodate all the rangers – with some of the staff having to travel back and forth between the Park and nearby towns such as Massingir every day. Not only did this situation place a strain on resources, but the absence of large numbers of key rangers from the Park furthermore hampered the effective execution of night-time operations. The new facilities are conveniently situated close to the park offices, and offers comfortable living quarters for all the field rangers, section rangers and patrol leaders based in the area. It has served to greatly boost ranger morale, and has enabled faster and more effective reaction force mobilisation.
The secondary purpose of the base is to function as a training and function venue, and additional accommodation space has been constructed for this purpose.
In 2012, a new field ranger base was constructed at Mapai Gate through joint funding received from BMZ, through KfW, and AFD. Peace Parks Foundation, through the Rhino Protection Programme, has also assisted with facility upgrades at Mapai and Gaza base camps. With the support of various donors, plans are afoot to continue systematically improving living and working facilities for ranger forces throughout LNP.