WorldRhinoDay 2015The MyPlanet Rhino Fund (administered by the Endangered Wildlife Trust) has been supporting best-practice and new innovations in rhino conservation since its creation in March 2011.

Thanks to the support of over 42 000 cardholders, we have been able to raise R1.88 million for the MyPlanet Rhino Fund since Rhino Day 2014. Thank you to everyone who has swiped their MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet cards for this important cause!

“There are many well-run and credible organisations raising money for rhino conservation but there are also a lot of scams preying on human emotions. We started the fund, represented by a broad range of interested an affected parties, to help ensure funding is going where it’s needed most. Thanks to the overwhelming support of South African consumers and retail partners, we have already raised over R4 million for the conservation of this iconic species.”
- Braam Malherbe, MyPlanet ambassador, conservationist and MyPlanet Rhino Fund panel member.

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The Southern African Wildlife College

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The Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) has become an acknowledged centre of specialisation in Conservation Education and Wildlife Management Training, not only in southern Africa but internationally. The funding received from MyPlanet Rhino fund will see that 137 people in 2015 and 120 people in 2016 are trained on a full 12-month national certificate programme. This intensive programme helps meet the need for the additional skills that address poaching and the shortage of qualified field rangers and guides in wildlife areas as well as creating valuable jobs.

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Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary

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The Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary is a non-profit company founded by Petronel Nieuwoudt 15 years ago in Limpopo. It aims to raise funds in South Africa and offshore for the rescue and rehabilitation of injured and baby orphaned white and black rhinos. Once injured rhinos have recovered and the orphaned babies have been weaned and reached sub-adult stage, they will be released into a breeding project on the adjoining game reserve, which is to be developed into a stronghold that offers protection from poaching.

The highest priority at the centre is the need for a quality security team. At present they have two game scouts at night and one daytime scout patrolling the bomas and grazing areas. These scouts are not armed but have with radios.  Currently, should the scouts spot any poaching activity, they have to alert the senior person on duty, who is armed. The scouts need to be trained and armed, and the centre needs a dedicated security manager. Security training for all game scouts will be funded through the MyPlanet Rhino Fund.

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Quemic: Environmental Crime Reaction Unit (ECRU)

Quemic provides integrated security solutions to the public and private sectors and is the preferred supplier of anti-poaching, field ranger, firearm and related training in Southern Africa Environmental Crime Response Unit (ECRU) in a number of our large reserves.

The Environmental Crime Response Unit (ECRU) security officers’ functions include observation and surveillance patrols; anti-poaching duties; hot persuits/follow up operations; intelligence driven operations; general law enforcement and monitoring of high risk animals on rhino reserves.

The MyPlanet Rhino Fund will cover a three-month contract for Quemic’s Anti-Poaching Unit to be deployed in ‘Hot Poaching Zones’ to assist private reserve owners to protect their rhinos.

SANParks: Addo Elephant National Park

SanParks Addo Camera Traps

South African National Parks (SANParks) collectively protects about 140 south-western black rhinos in its system of national parks outside of the Kruger and Marakele National Parks. These parks account for about 67% of the total south-western black rhino population in South Africa. With over 100 of these black rhinos, Addo Elephant National Park is the single most important population for this subspecies. Addo’s thick vegetation offers some of the most productive black rhino habitat in the country and can support one rhino per 2km². This in combination with available habitat, has allowed this population to grow at an excellent 15% per annum. Essential to understanding this has been the monitoring of the rhinos, which has been achieved through the combination of aerial surveys, camera traps and opportunistic field recording.

The monitoring of rhino forms an intergral component of any protection and biological management plan for the species. It is vital that we continue monitoring these animals, and that we have in-depth knowledge of how the populations are reacting to the different environmental circumstances and also their demographic profiles. With limited resources and the park’s thick vegetation, standard monitoring is more difficult. Camera trapping has proved to be an ideal, non-invasive form of monitoring rhino, providing ideal individual identification and condition monitoring capabilities.  The MyPlanet Rhino Fund donation will enable the purchase of 20 camera traps to monitor their rhino population and support the conservation of these species.

Save Valley Conservancy Special Species Protection Unit

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Save Valley Conservancy Special Species Protection Unit is in the northern-most part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. The unit was formed to tackle the type of high level poaching which is associated with certain species whose parts [horns, scales, bones, and tusks] have a high demand in illegal wildlife trade markets.  Currently the rhino tops the list of animals threatened.  Since the establishment of the unit, the poaching mortality rate has decreased, allowing the natural breeding rate of the population to increase rhino numbers within the Conservancy.  The Unit has also had a positive effect on lesser poaching crimes and thus contributed to the overall wellbeing of the Conservancy as a whole.

Wildlife populations increased rapidly and within a few years, the Save Valley Conservancy was home to globally significant populations of endangered African wild dogs and black rhinos, and substantial populations of other threatened species. Each ranch has its own anti-poaching scouts but, as the poaching of black rhino escalated, an additional Special Species Protection Unit (formerly Anti-poaching Unit) was formed in 2010 to cover the whole conservancy.  

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The past decade has seen a significant downturn in Zimbabwe’s tourism and, coupled with the withdrawal of Save Valley Conservancy hunting licences for two years resulted in a severe funding shortfall as this critical source of income ceased. The SVC can no longer afford to continue protecting the wildlife resource on its own, and without protection from poaching, the effect on the wildlife populations, particularly endangered and vulnerable species, will be devastating. The aim of the project is to provide financial support to ensure the SVC Special Species Protection Unit continues operating. Thanks to the MyPlanet Rhino Fund donation, it can.

Limpopo Rhino Security Group

The Limpopo Rhino Security Group has been established by a group of farmers and private rhino owners who have joined forces to create a security node so they can assist one another in a moment of crisis, in a situation where a reaction team is required and also to establish a pro-active system to keep poachers out of the Limpopo area.  The Security Group is protecting roughly 300 rhinos in the northern Limpopo Province,  which has been extensively targeted in the last few months and many farmers have sold their rhinos due to high running- and security costs.
Farmers who have decided to keep their rhinos are keeping them out of  love and passion  for these animals, not for any economic gain. “If we, as farmers don’t stand up and fight – we will soon lose all our rhinos.” The MyPlanet Rhino Fund donation will assist these farmers and private rhino owners to provide security and protection for their rhinos.

EWT: Wildlife in Trade Programme

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is a non-governmental, non-profit, conservation organisation, founded in 1973 and operating throughout southern Africa and parts of East Africa. The EWT conserves threatened species and ecosystems in southern Africa by initiating research and conservation action programs, implementing projects which mitigate threats facing species diversity and supporting sustainable natural resource management.
The EWT runs several conservation programmes, including the Wildlife in Trade Programme (WIT), begun in 2014. This now incorporates the EWT Rhino Project, initiated in 2011, which has formed the core of the WIT Programme to date. The Rhino Project includes five focus areas: the use of dogs; communities; communication and awareness; orphan response and demand reduction.

As one of the first organisations to recognise the potential that dogs have in the fight against rhino poaching, the EWT was the first non-governmental organisation to place dogs at OR Tambo International Airport, and has subsequently deployed tracker and sniffer dogs at a variety of parks and reserves, including parks under the jurisdiction of KZN Ezemvelo (all reserves); Save The Waterberg Rhino (STWR) reserves; and SANParks (Addo Elephant National Park, Marakele National Park). These dog have been deployed at their respective reserves for at least seven months now. It is vital that the dogs are regularly assessed and training interventions implemented where necessary. Such assessments should be done at least twice a year to ensure that their work is of the necessary high standard and that no bad habits are creeping in. The MyPlanet Rhino Fund donation will ensure that six dogs receive refresher training and support the fight against rhino poaching.

Main heading: EWT: Wildlife in Trade Programme

The effectiveness of tracker dogs as an effective tool in the fight against rhino poaching has been shown repeatedly. For example, one of the tracker dogs stationed in the Kruger National Park has already helped rangers to arrest more than 15 poachers in the first half of this year alone.

The EWT has two young Belgian Malinois dogs who show the potential to be good tracking dogs. They are 14 months old, which is an ideal age to begin training. We have received requests for one of them to be deployed in the Timbavati area adjoining Kruger’s borders and the other in Limpopo as part of the Limpopo Rhino Security Group. Importantly, both dogs will be made available to all rhino areas within a reasonable distance from where they are housed, thus increasing the impact they will have and their cost effectiveness. Significantly, suitable handlers have also been identified and they will need to be trained too. The MyPlanet Rhino Fund donation will provide training for two dogs that can assist rangers to arrest more poachers.