Dear Chad and Scott
I hope you are keeping well!
A little update from the bush!
The Project Rhino Teams have been working around the clock to ensure that we keep our wildlife, rhinos and protected areas safe!
Our K9 unit has expanded and we now have 7 operational K9’s that have all been trained to fly, should they be dispatched via air, they cover all capabilities from cold scent, hot scent, detection and tracking. They have done numerous training courses over the last year with the Game Rangers Association of Africa and Johan van Straten from Kruger, we have done training with all our member reserves and their Anti-Poaching Units as we are absolutely dedicated to ensure that all teams are as well prepared as we possibly can be to fight wildlife crime.
We are also proud to share with you that we have a new ZAPWing pilot – Keaton Perkins. We could not have asked for a more dedicated, energetic and passionate member to join our team and since Keaton has joined Project Rhino our air surveillance work has really gone from strength to strength.
From February 2022, when Keaton started, until the end of June 2022 a total of 287 hours were flown of which 239 was for patrol and reaction. 12 Poached rhino were found by our airwing, 2 wounded rhinos were detected and successfully treated and 4 calves from poached adult females were located and successfully moved to a rhino orphanage to ensure their survival. From December 2021 - June 2022, our K9 team removed 294 snares from our game reserves, responded to 65 emergency call outs, made 21 apprehensions of criminals, retrieved 2 illegal firearms, recovered stolen goods from 7 incidences, recovered 5 high jacked vehicles, responded to 10 armed robbery / burglary cases, dealt with 1 abduction case and successfully found the missing person, retrieved narcotics from 3 separate incidences where arrests were made (+/- 6kgs narcotics, 2x truck loads of counterfeit goods worth R15 million rand).The teams also conduct daily patrols, assist at roadblocks and help recover missing wildlife.
Since March 2020 we have launched a feeding scheme project that supported all the communities around our member game reserves, as so many of these community members lost their work due to COVID19. This project was and is a major success as we handed out more than 2 million food parcels to the community members with their neighbouring reserves so that they can associate the value of the reserves to the communities. We also made sure that the main Nkosi of the community received the food parcels and guided us to the families who were most in need of food rations. Each food parcel drop went hand in hand with a conservation message as our main goal is still to educate the communities on conservation and the preservation of our wildlife and wild areas (See report attached).
Our support to the various reserves horse units have continued and we continue to help with training, equipment, veterinary bills and food (horse pellets and hay) when and where needed. You are welcome to view our Global Giving Horse Unit reports here: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/support-mounted-rangers-fighting-rhino-poaching/updates/
Ranger safety and training is of utmost importance to us and where we can, we support ranger teams with uniforms and equipment. Through the Game Ranger Association of Africa we have teamed up with Jim Green, who has just sponsored the Project Rhino Team with brand new boots – which we are so grateful for.
Our K9 team have received an award at the IUCN WCPA International Ranger Awards this year – and we cannot be more proud.