Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park set up a detection fence which will help protect rhino populations; especially as borders start to open once again.
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (22 September 2020) – Rhino poaching stats have been incredibly low during the lockdown as poachers have been unable to move the poached horns out of South Africa. As borders start opening and international travel is permitted, these numbers will climb.
Preparations have been made and in honour of World Rhino Day today, we are excited to announce that the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park has received a very helpful poacher deterrent to protect rhino populations.
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP), situated in KwaZulu-Natal, is often referred to as the ‘birthplace of rhino’. Over half a century ago, the southern white rhino was saved from the brink of extinction in this area. With the beautiful mammal headed back towards extinction, conservation efforts have been doubled.
This incredible park is home to the largest population of Rhino outside of the Kruger National Park and is managed by the Provincial Conservation Authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. Unfortunately, as Rhino poaching pressure has escalated over the years, the poaching levels in HiP are currently unsustainable.
Mark Gerrard, the Managing Director of Wildlife ACT shared the good news about a detection fence, kitted with the latest technology, which has been installed to prevent poachers from getting near the rhino population at HiP.
Wildlife ACT is a registered Non-Profit Organisation which was established in South Africa in 2010 with a vision to save Africa’s iconic and endangered species from extinction, thereby enabling broad-scale biodiversity conservation.
The Detection Fence
Wildlife ACT and Ezemvelo, with support from key donors Global Conservation and WCN, have partnered to construct a fence, fitted with the latest technology, that detects any incursions or interference along its length. Any attempt made by poachers to enter the park triggers an alert which is automatically sent to Ezemvelo’s control centre.
A rapid response team can therefore mobilise without delay, responding to poaching groups before a Rhino is killed. This allows efficient use of resources, placing Ezemvelo’s anti-poaching staff one step ahead of Rhino poachers, while helping to protect the human capital at the frontlines of the battle against Rhino poaching.
The fence has electrics both inside and outside its length and any tampering or cutting of the fence sends us an immediate message, pinpointing the location of the tamper.
Two sections of fence have been upgraded to date and we have already seen a shift in Rhino poaching activity away from both areas to sites where there is no Detection Fence. Such work has been championed by our rangers such as Dennis Kelly and others.
The fence is being upgraded in phases, with specific sections focused on because of their poaching threat and conservation need. This phased approach is carefully planned to ensure maximum impact, but also to channel poaching effort towards areas where other resources can be deployed more easily.
This work integrates into several other initiatives being carried out by park management such as the Canine unit and wildlife monitoring. This full integration ensures that poaching incidents can be reduced, and the possibility of poacher apprehension is increased.
MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube shared her thanks for the teams dedicated to protecting South Africa’s rhino.
“As we observe World Rhino Day, we pause and pay tribute to law enforcement agencies, nature lovers, conservationists who are working with our entity Ezemvelo-Wildlife to fight wildlife crime.
We wish to single out Wildlife Act – Focused Conservation for their sterling efforts in using the state-of-the-art technology to fight rhino poaching.
We convey our gratitude to Mark Gerrard, Managing Director of Wildlife ACT and the rest of the team.
I am pleased by the fact that Mr Gerrard acknowledges that fact that, with shrinking budgets for conservation efforts, and already limited resources being shifted to address other needs during the COVID 19 pandemic, the use of cutting edge technology makes existing operations more efficient.
Critically, on this day, we recommit ourselves as government to ensure that integrated approach is used to protect and conserve the rhino population for future generations.”