Posts Tagged With: reserves

Reserves need to step up to fight rhino poaching

Recently as many people were mesmerized by the Blood Moon, the event indeed lived up to its name in South Africa, when full moon rhinoat least half a dozen rhinos were slain. More casualties in the war on poaching.

The rhinos were slain in Kwazulu-Natal in a private reserve. With rhino poaching stats well over 700 now, 85 have been in the Kwazulu-Natal area alone.

Six rhino carcasses. An amazing feat. In a park the size of the state of Michigan , in alternating open and hilly terrain; to find and dehorn just one of the elusive rhinos would be difficult, perhaps with the right team two would be lucky. But six?! To have entered undetected, located the rhinos, slain them, dehorned them, AND left unscathed is obviously an organized inside job.

rhinos in kzn

Rhinos in KZN. photo: unknown

Although some private reserves are doing what they can to obtain funding for anti-poaching efforts and implement strategies; others seem to be floundering.

Some reserves take extra measures and exercise the utmost in caution. One such reserve takes no chances; with daily vehicle searches from the kitchen staff through the general manager, conducting lie detector tests on all new employees and randomly on existing employees. If an alarm is set off, the present employees as well as members of the APU are questioned and examined as general protocol.

Others seem more relaxed; even surprised at the idea of lie detector tests and vehicle searches.

At these known reserves (through reliable sources), they have two commonalities: they have experienced poaching (either an attempt or actuality) AND they agree it is always an “inside job”.  So why not employ the most extreme measures?

One employee mentioned “you have to trust your employees”.

Yet this “trust” may be fatal to the rhinos.

apu

Regular vehicle searches and lie detector tests would help the APUs. photo: unknown

Perhaps there is an element of naivete  or simply frustration. What is clear is that most reserves do seem eager to talk about it, and are open to change.

Funding is a constant battle, but attitude and commitment are also a necessity. There is no monetary cost to employee checks, and overall increased vigilance. But there IS a definite cost to not doing it. Setting the tone and gaining reputation as a reserve committed to doing what it takes may just take them off the “poaching radar”.

Afterall, if  both employees and clients understand there is no tolerance and no chance at successful poaching, they are less likely to make the attempt or be in collusion with anyone on the outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The ever-evolving role of Wildlife Rangers

Game Ranger: Someone who is responsible for the management of a game reserve.  They work with ecologists, game reserve and wildlife managers; manage and monitor animal populations, maintain roads and fencing, and serve as field guides.

Rangers tracking wildlife for guests in Londolozi. photo: Eric Leininger

Rangers tracking wildlife for guests in Londolozi. photo: Eric Leininger

That in a nutshell was the job of a ranger. But today’s wildlife guides have had to evolve, not just gauge and monitor animals, but defend them with their lives.

Anti-poaching training and strategies have become the primary focus. Rangers evolved, were forced to become militarized.  Working 24/7 to secure poaching hot-spots, do regular patrols to find and remove snares, gather intelligence, and set up ambushes to catch would-be poachers; all the while, keenly aware their lives are under threat.

Rangers alert and on patrol in Virunga National Park, a park with a high incidence of gunfire and poaching activity. photo: Soldier Systems

Rangers alert and on patrol in Virunga National Park, arguably the most dangerous park due to poaching and interest in oil. photo: Soldier Systems

In 2013, Transfrontier Africa broke new ground by initiating the first all women anti-poaching teams. By engaging the community and employing local women to help protect Balule Nature Reserve, it helped empower the community and change the face of game rangers. Far from the traditional ranger, but thus far, the program has been highly successful in keeping down poaching.

black mambas training

Black Mambas in training exercises at Balule. photo: Protrack APU

Rangers are tough as nails and defend rhinos with their lives. So what wouldn’t they do to fight poaching?

In 2014, a former model and photographer took a unique approach to raising funds for rhino conservation. A dozen park rangers took things a step further and bared all in a naked calendar shoot. Innovative, slightly humorous, but courageous. And still quite serious. As said by one of the participants, Sibu Nziwe, “I have chosen to work for nature and give up the competition for jobs in the cities. I have sacrificed my social life with family and friends in the city for a greater cause.”

naked ranger 1

Rangers bared all in a 2015 calendar, raising awareness and funds toward their jobs and the crisis of poaching. photo: Josie Borain

What’s next? Whatever it may be, rest assured they will get it done. Dedicated, courageous, adapting-these men and women sacrifice themselves in ways most of us can’t imagine. There is nothing they can’t or won’t do. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and heroes. They are rangers.

 

Categories: Making a Difference, Ranger Heroes, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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