Each year, World Rhino Day is celebrated on the 22nd of September, highlighting the ongoing importance of protecting the world’s ever-dwindling rhino populations from relentless poaching for their horns.
South Africa is still home to the largest remnants of Africa’s Black and White Rhino populations, and the country is therefore a key target of the international and local poaching syndicates. By May this year, the Department of Environmental Affairs had reported that 363 rhinos had already been poached.
Many South Africans care deeply about the threat to this iconic species, a member of our Big Five.
The MyPlanet Rhino Fund, a partnership between the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet fundraising programme and the fund’s administrator, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), was formed six years ago to enable MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet supporters to make the MyPlanet Rhino Fund their beneficiary and contribute to targeted Rhino conservation efforts.
Participating retailers make donations on behalf of consumers every time they swipe their MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet cards in-store. There are currently well over 50 000 active supporters of the MyPlanet Rhino Fund, and to date they have raised more than R 6 million.
Conservationist and MyPlanet ambassador, Braam Malherbe who played a key role in the establishment of the MyPlanet Rhino Fund says, “We are delighted that every year our support base keeps growing. It’s a brilliant effort on the part of South African consumers that over the past twelve months, R2 544 000 has been raised.”
“Some of these funds have enabled the Kruger National Park and Addo National Park to replace the engines in their Bathawk aircrafts, which are essential for the monitoring and safe-keeping of Rhinos over the vast distances of these wildlife preserves. Addo has also received an additional R50 000 grant towards the acquisition of cyber-trackers for the Park.”
The fund recognises that there is no single solution that can address the complexity of the illegal wildlife trade and avert the country’s rhino poaching crisis. The MyPlanet Rhino Fund therefore disperses its funds to a variety of conservation organisations and government agencies that use a range of best practice and proven programmes and interventions to protect Rhinos.
This year’s R450 000 grant from the MyPlanet Rhino Fund has enabled the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) to purchase a much-needed Landcruiser vehicle to be used for rhino conservation programme.
Both the EWT and the SA Wildlife College (SAWC) have received grants for specific ranger and tracker dog training programmes that build important capacity in South Africa’s anti-poaching units.
Support has also been given to innovative SAWC ranger incentive initiatives where the top-performing individuals across 22 ranger stations in the Kruger National Park will receive an incentive for service to rhinos that goes beyond the call of duty.
While the rangers work for a fair salary, they put their lives on the lines daily and it is vital that they push on into overtime when they are tracking poachers. The incentives aim to keep them motivated and engaged, as well as to recognise and reward perseverance .
This year’s other beneficiaries of MyPlanet Rhino Fund include the Special Species Protection Unit of Savé Valley Conservancy, which is part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area and the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary in Mpumalanga that protects, treats and cares for orphaned rhinos who suffer trauma and stress-related health conditions after experiencing the violent deaths of their mothers.
“South African consumers can so easily join the effort to help save our rhinos without it costing them a cent,” says Helene Brand, MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet CSI Manager.
“All you need to do is sign up for a card, choose the MyPlanet Rhino Fund as your beneficiary and then swipe your card every time you shop at our retail partners, which includes the likes of Woolworths, Engen Foodstops, Bidvest Waltons, Flight Centre and loot.co.za amongst others. The MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet retail partners will make contributions to the MyPlanet Rhino Fund on your behalf and in this way, you can play an important role in supporting the hard-working conservationists and rangers who are at the frontlines of protecting rhinos for our future generations.”
Go to www.myschool.co.za to sign up for your MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card, choose the MyPlanet Rhino Fund as your beneficiary and raise funds for Rhinos every time you shop.