Antipoaching class=Putting eyes in the sky to catch rhino poachers, SANParks Kruger National Park have received a brand new Foxbat aircraft donated by the MyPlanet Rhino Fund.
Giving wings to the fight against rhino poaching, SANParks are taking to the skies with a brand new R1.4 million FOXBAT light aircraft. That’s thanks to 34 000 MyPlanet Rhino Fund supporters who raised nearly R3 million over the past year. Every day South Africa loses three scarce rhinos, and while there has been a slight decline in poaching, the new FOXBAT A22LS aircraft gives anti-poaching teams in Kruger National Park an ‘eye in the sky’ in the fight against poaching.
Rhino killings in the Kruger National Park have marginally declined over the past two years, but poaching has unfortunately increased in other areas. The more cost-effective FOXBAT will play an essential role in monitoring rhinos, identifying and responding to threats. It’ll also ensure that Kruger’s anti-poaching unit is better equipped when it comes to combatting increasingly sophisticated gangs of rhino poachers.
“Over the past few years, we have had great success due to our deployment of aircraft piloted by rangers over the vastness of Kruger”, says Steven Whitfield, Marula North Regional Ranger in the Kruger National Park and pilot of the new aircraft. “Aircraft have become irreplaceable assets enabling quick response and support to poaching incidents. They are vital in improving monitoring, identifying high risk areas, patrolling remote areas inaccessible by vehicle and foot, and enhancing our rapid detection and response capabilities as poaching trends shift.”
The MyPlanet Rhino Fund Foxbat will be based at Satara, in a newly built hangar that was jointly funded between MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet and StopRhinoPoaching.com. Conservationist and MyPlanet Rhino Fund Ambassador, Braam Malherbe says, “It’s incredible for citizen-driven fundraising to result in the much-needed donation of a state-of-the-art aircraft. It’s proof that each person’s seemingly small contribution to conservation can result in a big impact”.
Both Black and White rhinos remain threatened with extinction in the wild and since last year, the MyPlanet Rhino Fund, which is administered by the Endangered Wildlife Trust, has donated more than R3.5 million to nine different non-profit organisations engaged in rhino conservation. These include donations of over R500 000 each to the rhino conservation initiatives of Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape and the Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust in the North-West Province. Balule Nature Reserve in Limpopo has received R371 400 in support of its K9 anti-poaching and community outreach initiatives.
Education continues to be an important element in developing future conservation leaders. This year, the MyPlanet Rhino Fund is continuing its support of the Lapalala Wilderness School and Rhino Revolution’s Green Kidz programmes which raise awareness and involve the youth from vulnerable communities in rhino conservation education. Funding will also be used to support projects focused on improving data analysis and developing a software tool to facilitate greater information sharing, gathering and reporting.
“Supporters of the MyPlanet Rhino Fund can feel very proud of themselves,” says MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet General Manager, Pieter Twine. “For 21 years we have been raising funds for schools and charities, and over the past seven years, I am proud to see how South African shoppers have stood up for rhinos, a national icon. Their support is phenomenal, and an inspiration to others who also want to play a part in protecting these fantastic animals who are an integral part of our national heritage”
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