African rhinos are under extreme threat of extinction due to an increase in illicit demand for rhino horn. In 2013, 954+ rhinos were brutally killed. Often the horn is hacked off by callous poachers with a machete while the animal is immobilised and fully aware of what is happening to it and the rhino suffers an unimaginable agonising slow death. The aim of this project is to provide a holistic approach that rhino hosting communities can implement to reduce the vulnerability of poaching incidence. The project was developed through a coalition of public and private partnerships, including government agencies, private game reserves, universities and NGOs located in the Greater Kruger National Park. The multi-faceted approach relies on active protective services (boots on the ground), integration of technology in traditionally low tech strategies, academic research targeting the scholar practitioner and community education and upliftment opportunities.
This three-year project promotes three primary strategies including 1) an anti-poaching plan that deploys Environmental Monitors, an armed response force, a sniffer and tracking K-9 unit, drone with nighttime video technology, and cellular aided camera traps placed in strategic high risk areas; 2) university research specialising in both environmental and social sciences and, when appropriate, a blending of the two disciplines to develop effective best practices in human-megaherbivore conflict; and 3) the development of an effective regional communications and intelligence system among game reserve managers and law enforcement agencies for increased sharing of information related to threats.