RPU assisting with an injured rhino
Bat Hawk Ikaneng
Core Team on a Notching and Dehorning
A Private Notching with a PWT Board Member
A Corporate Notching with Leadstrong
A Corporate Notching with Toyota
RPU Weapons Training
Bat Hawk Mofalodi
Field Rangers at Manyane Gate
Rhino Orphan Annie at TRO
Don't Let Me Go
Treating an Injured Rhino Bull
Rhino Orphan Lottie at TRO
The Face of Poaching
Bat Hawk Mofalodi
Rhino Calf Rescue
Bat Hawk Serate
Rhino Protection and Conservation in Pilanesberg National Park
The overall protection of the rhinos remains an in-the-field situation. The park has to remain one step ahead of the poachers, thus the purchase of specialised equipment will always be needed as well as continually training new field rangers and giving refresher courses and new skills to old hands. Fundraising for specifically for rhino protection is an ongoing project that the PWT has been involved with for many years, and will continue to support going into the future.
There are various ways to assist the PWT in raising funds for this project and we urge you to please contact the PWT to find out how! When making a donation towards the rhinos please state so on your payment reference!
Rhino Status and Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust Involvement
Prior to 2008 poaching of rhino was still present but on a much smaller scale. Since 2008 to date the numbers have escalated to proportions whereby the the new births of rhino per annum will soon be less than the numbers of rhinos poached if drastic measures are not put into place. This is the beginning of the road to extinction. These precious animals, who are so trusting and innocent, are relying on us to protect them from this onslaught. Rhino protection has become the PWT’s primary conservation project in Pilanesberg until we can stop this awful situation.
Rhinos are critically endangered
Three of the five species of rhino are “Critically Endangered” as defined by the IUCN (World Conservation Union). A taxon is classified as critically endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of a range of pre-determined criteria. It is therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. The southern subspecies of the white rhino is classified by the IUCN in the lesser category of being “Near Threatened”; and the Indian rhino is classified as “Vulnerable”. Even this is considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
In 2022, some of us are lucky enough to be able to travel to Africa and Asia to see them in the wild. In 2032, will our children and grandchildren have this same privilege?
Rhinos have been around for 50 million years
Humans have caused the drastic decline in numbers
Rhinos are an umbrella species
Rhinos are charismatic mega-herbivores!
Rhinos attract visitors and tourists
In situ conservation programmes need our help
Money funds effective conservation programmes that save rhinos
We know that conservation efforts save species. Pilanesberg is home to both the Southern White and Black Rhino species. The Southern White Rhino would not exist today if it were not for the work of a few determined people, who brought together the 200 or so individuals surviving, for a managed breeding and re-introduction programme. In 2021, South Africawas home to some 18 000 Southern White Rhinos, and 5 600 Black Rhinos. With more money, we can support more programmes, and not just save rhino populations, but increase numbers and develop populations. The Northern White Rhino subspecies may just have become extinct, but it is not too late to save the rest.
Not just that, but how many people know that rhinos also live in Asia? Or that two species have just one horn? Or that the horn is not used as an aphrodisiac? We have even heard some people say that they are carnivores! If people do not know about these amazing animals and the problems they are facing, how can we expect them to want to do something to help save rhinos?
We all have an opportunity to get involved!
PWT Rhino Conservation and Protection Projects
PWT Support of the Rhino Protection Unit (RPU)
This is perhaps one of the most critical rhino protection initiatives in Pilanesberg. Without these rangers, the actual boots on the ground, rhino conservation and winning the fight against poaching would be impossible. The PWT supports the RPU in Pilanesberg by providing funding/sourcing donations for the following:
- Ranger training – tracking, weapons handling, bush survival etc.
- Necessary equipment – uniforms, boots, weapons, radios, binoculars, mobile data, food rations, blankets, vehicles etc.
- Ranger wellness – these ensure that the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of the rangers is taken into consideration. Being an anti-poaching ranger can often be a thankless, and demotivating career. They are fighting a war against their fellow humans to protect the creatures who cannot protect themselves. It is a job requiring passion, dedication, and a love for the animals whom many rangers die trying to save.
- Accommodation – the PWT maintains the ranger accommodation in the Pilanesberg itself, ensure that they have a safe, comfortable place to stay when they are on duty and not out in the field.
Bat Hawk Project – Collaboration between PWT and Copenhagen Zoo
The Bat Hawk was introduced to Pilanesberg in 2016 as an addition to the anti-poaching efforts. This little aircraft has become an invaluable asset to the RPU. She is flown across the park on surveillance missions twice a day, scouting the various sections for suspicious activity, carcasses, abandoned calves, and anything which seems out of the ordinary. This amazing project is sponsored by Copenhagen Zoo, who fund the project in it’s totality. This includes the purchase of the aircraft itself, servicing and maintenance, fuel, insurance, the maintenance of the hanger, and salaries for the pilots who fly her. The Pilanesberg has had three individual aircraft since the start of this project. Each aircraft has a set number of hours during which it can be used for this application; once this limit is reached, the engine requires an overhaul or the plane has to be replaced (whichever lands up being the most cost effective).
Serate – the inaugural bat hawk in Pilanesberg, flew from Dec 2016 to March 2018
Mofalodi – Serate’s successor, flew from March 2018 to July 2021
Ikaneng – the new girl in town, began flying in July 2021
Rhino Identification and DNA Collection
At present the focus is on creating a database of information on each rhino within the Park. To increase our knowledge of rhinos, the park uses a technique of “notching” where a specific pattern is cut into the ears which enables ground monitors to individually identify that animal, who it is with, where it stays, and other biological data such as birth intervals. At the same time DNA is collected as part of the National Rhino Project that analyses and stores this data that can be used as evidence in the case of rhino poaching.
The PWT offers these notching events as experiences to members of the public and corporates. They are great as team building events, birthday, and event celebrations. You will not only be able to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you will also be directly contributing to the survival of ‘your rhino’ and all others within Pilanesberg. For more information on our notching experience, please click on the button below to visit our dedicated Notchings Fundraising page.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Technology
The PWT has provided funding for a number of AI and technology-based anti-poaching measures, many of which cannot be discussed publicly for safety reasons. One of the items which has proven very useful is the AI Bush Cameras; which are satellite-based cameras, and the SIM cards for these are sponsored by Vodacom.
PWT Partnership with The Rhino Orphanage (TRO)
TRO is another outstanding non-profit organisation who takes in orphaned rhino calves and raises them with the objective of eventually releasing them back into the wild rhino population. The PWT has a partnership with TRO, and they treat and raise the orphaned rhino calves which are rescued in Pilanesberg. In March 2022, a miracle baby was born to a female rhino who was rescued as an orphan after her mother was poached and killed for her horns. This female was raised and eventually released into a secure reserve, and she has now had a baby of her own!
For more information on the vital work they do, please visit their website: The Rhino Orphanage.
To donate to the rhino conservation and protection efforts in Pilanesberg, please click on the Donate Button below.