Rhinos constitute one of the highly-regarded “Big 5” animals of African wildlife, which include elephants, lions, leopards and the Cape buffalo. South Africa is home to approximately 21,000 rhinos, more than any other country in the world, unfortunately, Black rhinos are currently listed as critically endangered – with only about 4,200 remaining in existence.

Since 2007, the number of rhinos killed in South Africa has risen sharply from 13 to 87 in 2008! A year later, figures rose again to an alarming 120 kills. 2010 however, was the worst year in the Country’s history, which saw 333 animals slaughtered for their horns and in 2011 the country is once again heading for catastrophe, with a total of 174 animals having been killed so far.

Halting the current wave of poaching is going to prove extremely difficult and if unsuccessful the hard-won population increases achieved by conservation authorities during the 20th century will be completely reversed. Especially as in their bid to avoid law enforcement, these sophisticated poachers are using ‘high-tech’ gear, including night-vision equipment, veterinary tranquillizers, silencers and helicopters. If not stopped in its tracks, South Africa’s Rhino populations will soon fade to critically low levels, and again be pushed to the point of extinction.

Adding to the vulnerability of the rhino is the ‘heightened’ demand for rhino horn, which has long been prized as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine. More recently it has also been claimed to possess cancer-curing properties; although there is no evidence to support these claims. Only a concerted and unified national response by law enforcement agencies, government departments and local communities will provide these magnificent animals with a realistic chance to halt this massacre.

In order to reach as many South Africans as possible, Sboniso and Paul plan to walk from Musina in the Limpopo Province, to Cape Town in the Western Cape. This will be a distance of around 2,000km. By doing this they will bisect the country and create a path of awareness along the way.

Education is at the top of their list, and as such they will visit as many schools as they can – hoping to talk to our young people about the importance of conservation. They expect to attract significant media attention along the way, which will assist them greatly in getting their message across. Sboniso and Paul are also hoping to raise funds to support the growth of a greater national awareness of the rhino-poaching problem. The funds will be administered by the Game Rangers Association of Africa and a small committee will assign funds to genuine and reputable organizations, projects and/or reserves, once the project has been completed.

Funds raised will be used to:

– Improve and implement better education and skills development programs that address the issues of improved conservation and anti-poaching.
– Procure better equipment to assist conservation field staff in the employ of organisations tasked with rhino protection.
– Assist with better intelligence gathering for relevant reserves including their joint ventures with the law enforcement agencies involved.

Should you require more information, wish to make a donation or support this project in some other way, please contact:

Paul Jennings
Physical address: Umfolozi Game Reserve KZN
Tel: +27 35 55O 8479,
Fax: +27 35 550 8479
Cell: +27 79 879 1073
Email: [email protected]

Thanks for reading

Illona Cross, Tanzania

Author: Illona Cross