Rhino Protection Initiative

Rhinos are being massacred! Almost as many Rhino have been killed as there were when I first went on Umfolozi Game Reserve in 1952. It is a situation where SA previously could hold its head high. Operation Rhino, which was the capture and translocation of the white rhino, has been hailed internationally as one of the greatest success stories in wildlife conservation.

Are we going to put that in jeopardy now? By allowing people who really should know better, to fly over in helicopters, do reconnaissances, and then use modern drugs to come down and kill the rhino and just take away their horns, and sometimes before the rhino is even dead. The animal is lying there writhing in pain and the horn is cut off … No, No, No!

We know who many of the people are, I would appeal to them for God’s sake: If you consider yourself a South African, if you’re proud of your country, you love this country – don’t do it! Don’t do it!

Dr. Ian Player – Rhino Conservationist & Environmental Statesman

 

Helicopters, machine guns, bullet-proof vests, R 250,000 night-vision binoculars, prescription tranquillisers, axes and electric chain saws. These are some of the tools used in modern poaching methods. The whole topic of rhino poaching poses more questions than answers. Who is pay-rolling the organized operations? Why the sudden increase in poaching in recent months? Who are the masterminds behind purchasing the rhino horns?

The most sophisticated operations use helicopters. Am I being naïve in thinking that all helicopters in South Africa and neighbouring countries need to be registered with the civil aviation authorities? What control is there over approving and monitoring their flight plans? Who are the pilots and what code of ethics are they meant to abide by? Are civil authorities in cahoots with these illegal activities? What regulations control importation of rhino horn into different countries?Rhino_Project_friends-of-loskop

What are our authorities doing to police and curtail the scourge? Why is the military not being called on to deal with this sudden onslaught? A theory called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs says people need to meet lower order needs, such as food and shelter, before they can think about higher concerns, such as morality. For many people living close to the breadline, conservation is a low priority. Could this be a reason our government can’t afford to give it much attention, especially when facing high unemployment rates and labour unrest? In some cases, familiarity breeds contempt. Are people who have grown up with wilderness less likely to be appreciative of it than people largely deprived of it? On the other hand, will someone who has never experienced nature in its purest state ever understand it either? Education is vital.

Loskop Dam’s Rhinos

Loskop Dam Nature Reserve is situated in the Olifants River valley, + 55 km north of Middelburg in Mpumalanga. The reserve covers approximately 22 850 ha, which includes approximately 2 350 ha surface area of the dam.

The elevation ranges from 990–1450 m a.s.l. The three underlying geological systems give rise to an extremely hilly terrain with deeply carved drainage lines.

Several important populations of animals occur on the reserve. The priority game species includes Buffalo, Oribi, Tsessebe and Sable. Several other threatened mammal species occur on the reserve, including African wild cat, Antbear, African civet, Aardwolf, Brown hyena, Serval and Leopard. Important bird species that occur on the reserve include Martial eagle, Stanley’s bustard, Caspian tern, African finfoot, Bald ibis, Blue crane and Red-billed oxpecker. The reserve also protect a substantial portion of the Mpumalanga White Rhino population.

The surrounding landowners on the southern and western borders are mainly farming with livestock and/or game. To the north-west the urban development of the Kwarrielaagte community is close to the boundary.

The following factors influence effective protection of the rhino:

  • The extremely hilly and inaccessible terrain
  • Nearby communities
  • Public roads on boundaries
  • Public excess to the Loskop Dam

Today, the members of  Friends of Loskop handed over six pairs of binoculars to the Loskop Dam Nature Reserve Manager, Klaas Modau  The binoculars will go a long way in helping to track and protect the rhino population of Loskop.

Loskop Dam Nature Reserve holds and protects a great share of the already endangered White Rhino population of Mpumalanga, and is renowned for the spectacular sightings of these magnificent animals.   Some of the rhino in the more sensitive areas have already been dehorned to protect them from poachers, but one has to keep in mind that rhino have horns for a reason.

Sadly, already this year we have lost one male and two female rhinos to poachers.  This cruel and senseless act even resulted in a baby rhino dying while still wrapped up in its mother’s womb, only a few weeks away from being born and seeing first light. This has now pushed the total number of rhino poached to four.

In order for Friends of Loskop to fully support the Mpumalanga Tourist and Parks Agency (MTPA) in their efforts to protect this rhino population, we are asking the public of ,Witbank, Middleburg and Groblersdal to dig deep into their hearts and pockets.

The needs list for the Anti-Poaching team of 19 dedicated trackers,  include items like:

  • New boots
  • Rain ponchos and hats.
  • Good torches
  • New uniform for the manager of the Anti-Poaching teams.
  • Radios
  • Back packs (Day packs)
  • Camping equipment

These teams spend 23 days out of every 30 in the bush tracking and protecting these magnificent animals.  Lets us do something positive before it is too late.

Some of the other interesting projects that are being carried out at Loskop under the guidance of  Delecia Gunn:

  • Black Footed/ Small Spotted Cat Breeding Project
  • Ground Hornbill Breeding Project.

Both of these projects are sponsored by Anglo coal.

Friends of Loskop wish to thank :

  • Forever Resorts Loskop Dam for their generous donation which enabled us to purchase the Binoculars.
  • The Runners of the Loskop Marathon for their donations through the 50km Ultra Marathon run in April 2010 as well as the runners of the 21km Wild Challenge, which was run through the reserve, also in April 2010. We sincerely hope that in 2011 runners will contribute more towards rhino protection.
  • Xstrata Coal, Mpunzi Division : For the impending donation to buy the batteries and solar panels that are needed to power the repeater for the radios.
  • Rod ‘n Reel (Outdoorsman) Witbank : For always being there to supply gas and prizes.
  • Stanley and de Kock Optometrists Witbank : for their continued support.
  • The fishermen of the Three Species Competition, held at Loskop Dam for their donations.

LOSKOP FISHERMEN

Please be on the lookout for our tent at the next few fishing competitions.  Come and visit us and learn how you too can help preserve the area for future fishing. 

Do you have the urge to help? Would you like to get involved?

If so, become a member of Friends of Loskop and enjoy seeing the reserve in a brand new light, as well as explore areas in the reserve that would not normally be seen by members of the public and experience the satisfaction of going to bed at night knowing that you have done your best to protect our wonderful wildlife heritage.

Donate funds, goods, sponsor an ad and/or become a member and strengthen the Friends of Loskop body.

If anyone would like to join us in this worthwhile cause, please contact Erena Neubert, Chairperson on

Cell:  071 679 6434
Fax:  086 651 9618
Email:  erena@telkomsa.net

BANKING DETAILS
Friends of Loskop
First National Bank
Groblersdal
Cheque Account
Bank Code:   260 147
Account no: 62033405425

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