mercredi 13 mars 2013

Observatoire du rhinocéros

KZN Rhino Watch has been going for five months now, and the project continues to be recognised at the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HIP) as being an effective anti poaching tool.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife's Lawrence Munroe, who's based at HIP where our helicopter is stationed, is one such advocate.

We caught up with him for his report on the past week in the Park. He says fortunately, it has been an incident-free one.

"We've had some adverse weather recently in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park which has affected the helicopter operation. However the helicopter has been put on standby twice in the past week for potential rhino poaching incidents.

"They did not take place and we are getting feedback from our investigations guys that the poachers are not happy that there's been an increased deployment of law enforcement personnel; they have seen the helicopter and they are not happy with that.

"So the helicopter definitely continues to be effective; the pilots have been briefed and there's a structured and a coordinated approach taking place with regards to the deployment of these aircraft," said Munroe.

And by aircraft, he means the fleet that Ezemvelo is building up, which includes fixed wing aircraft and two other choppers.

This has all materialised in the last five months and the added aircraft mean that Ezemvelo can cover a wider area - in other words, not just Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park.

"The ZAP Wing has been created which is a coordinated effort to deploy relevant aircrafts to law enforcement and rhino anti-poaching operations.

"The ZAP Wing consists of helicopters as well as ultra light fixed-wing aircrafts and the synergy between these aircrafts is proving very effective in surveillance and reaction in all matters pertaining to rhino anti- poaching."

And of course, our chopper - piloted and maintained by King Shaka Aviation - is a pivotal part of that.

Also in the last week, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting has been taking place in Bangkok.

I asked Yvette Taylor, from our partner organisation The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation, to talk us through the main developments there relating to the rhino.

"They've done things like getting Vietnam to conduct their own consumer behaviour research; tighten up their own imports of any CITES restricted animals; reporting seizures and arrests. They've sent messages directly to Mozambique in the same vein - to tighten up areas of weakness..."

"So I think from that viewpoint they've given us quite a comprehensive guideline on what should be implemented to improve the current situation and I'm quite positive about that.

"The hot topic has always been legalised hunting and legalised trade and Kenya has withdrawn their application to stop any hunting, so that will stay as it is and I think be investigated in terms of specifically the rhino.

"And then legalised trade, the minister has now said that they want a full investigation into the economics of legalised trade. I support the full investigation of the subject...I myself am not convinced at this point that this is the answer, but I think a thorough investigation... is always going to help that decision making process. So all in all I think they've had a good result."

KZN Rhino Watch has raised R1 138 011 to date towards keeping our helicopter in the air.
In the last week, donations have come in from Gaye Kirk; Royal Park Security and

A special word about - a digital faxing service - they've written in to say they're committed to supporting the project on a monthly basis. Managing member, Rob Ansell, says: "The staff and founders of have been incredibly moved and inspired by what you're doing with KZN Rhino Watch. We would also like to assist in some way to ensure the future of our rhinos. We pledge that for every fax processed by us, a percentage of the rebate we receive will be donated to ECR KZN Rhino Watch on a monthly basis. To get the contribution ball rolling, we would like to donate R2,360.53 to ECR KZN Rhino Watch.

And they've done that! Big thanks to them and to our other supporters. It's all so greatly appreciated.

And thanks also to our print partner, The Witness, who feature stories about the KZN Rhino Watch initiative every Thursday, enabling us to get the word out to an even broader audience.

By Diane Macpherson  (East Coast Radio13 mars 2013)


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