Dear visitors to StopRhinoPoaching.com
Our time is stretched between managing existing rhino projects and establishing new ones, allowing precious little time to personally respond to the multitude of general e-mails we receive each week. Here is some basic information covering a number of the enquiries we get.
Thanks to each and every one of you for your concern and support. Please don’t think badly of us – we are out there making a difference!
Ultimately, funding makes the biggest difference.
Yes of course, big funding is important as protecting rhinos is incredibly costly, but not all of us have the means. Never let this put you off and never underestimate the difference you can make. Small things that we take for granted, like getting a new torch, can make a significant difference in a ranger's life - from being able to do his job more effectively to being motivated by the kindness of others. Something as simple as supporting data costs - relatively inexpensive - yet an image from a camera trap which leads to the arrest of a poaching group would never have happened if there was no connectivity to alert the rangers.
Hold an event, sporting day, donate a portion of sales from a product, help your kids sell cupcakes at school......we have been helped by so many people in so many ways. Get creative!
For those of you keen to get involved in anti-poaching, StopRhinoPoaching.com doesn't run Volunteer Programs as such. Security regulations, liability and costs are just too prohibitive.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has a spiritual and symbolic component that plays a big role in Eastern belief systems. Cow hooves, horses hooves and any other alternative you may come up with may supply a similar chemical composition /substitute, but won’t replace the supposed spiritual characteristics of strength and power contained in a rhino product. Click here for more common myths from Conservation Economist Michael 't sas-Rolfes' website, Rhino Economics.
There has also been much said about the production of synthetic rhino horn. Our friends at Save The Rhino International have produced a comprehensive piece on this matter - click here for more.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, released its report titled The South African - Viet Nam Rhino Horn Trade Nexus in August 2012. This report gives an excellent review of the rhino crisis including rhino horn uses and consumers. You will find a link on our Rhino Knowledge page.
A wide scope of tried and tested technology solutions, as well as proof of concept projects, have already been implemented in reserves across South Africa. One of the most inhibitive factors is cost to procure and sustain. Secondly would be practical application in the bush (electricity supply problems, connectivity, animal interference, tampering, solar panels being stolen etc) and thirdly the sheer size of the areas in question. These three points quickly eliminate what seem to be obvious options, but by far the most relevant deciding factor is whether there is an effective security plan in place to follow up on alerts. Its all fine an well to spend a small fortune on tech, but the next question is - once you know a threat is there, what are you going to do about it? This next phase - actual reaction - is an even more complex topic. That is why, as a level 1 need, we concentrate our efforts on training rangers.
To address some of the more common tech questions we get....
TRACKING DEVICES: There are already tracking devices on the market that monitor rhino movements using GPS, send alerts if a rhino is stationary for longer than what is normal, if a rhino shows an unusual amount of activity or if the horns are removed from the body. These tracking devices are being used in some reserves. Because of the widespread media exposure about tracking devices in horns, poachers are already using counter measures.
UNMANNED AIRCRAFT/DRONES: contrary to widespread media hype and claims by some suppliers that they have the silver bullet to stop all poaching, this is just not the case. Yes, there are a number of models available and this option is being explored by a number of reserves. Even after all these years, a drone/UAV will NOT miraculously find poachers in the bush. What has worked in conflict areas will not necessarily work in the African bush! Considerations: size determines payload (the quality of the sensors that are attached to the UAV) which determines the quality of what you can actually see. The bigger the drone and the more advanced the sensors, the higher the price tag which ranges into mil-spec equipment not available for our use. Endurance and range - how far can it fly and for how long. Type - fixed wing vs rotary wing vs VTOL (vertical take off and lift). Big systems need more landing space, which can be challenging when in the middle of the bush. Big systems also need multiple operators, which means doubling up on teams for duty rotation, which all just adds a lot of prohibitive costs. These are just a few points out of many. There is a use for UAV's in conservation, but at this stage not in the anti-poaching space as yet.
Since starting the site we have been contacted by numerous security companies wanting to get involved. Because security is very subjective - what is a good idea to one may not be to another - and is dependent on so many variables, we do not necessarily get involved in this area. There are also established security companies, experienced in wildlife protection, who are contracted to the majority of the large private rhino reserves.
R&D projects: while we are open to ideas, and while we appreciate the enthusiasm, these are usually very difficult to manage and we are not in a position to fund such projects.
This is perhaps the most controversial topic around at the moment, and one that is polarising efforts and rhino organisations. Please note that StopRhinoPoaching.com is ISSUE NEUTRAL on trade. There is a great deal of content (both pro and anti-trade) to be found on the internet covering this subject.
StopRhinoPoaching.com is NOT an activist organisation. We have a huge responsibility towards our corporate partners and to maintaining a close relationship with those role players who welcome our assistance - some of whom are provincial and national authorities. There is great scope for CONSTRUCTIVE protest.
Rhino poaching is incredibly complex transnational crime involving organised criminal syndicates. There is no single solution or quick fix. Bringing down the poaching figures is going to take a complex set of strategies involving an all-of-government whole of society approach. Even though the crisis sometimes feels insurmountable, for the rhino' sake we need to keep on trying.
On the ground, protection and population growth.
Taking out the middlemen and collapsing the syndicates through watertight investigations made by capable,
dedicated and well-resourced multi-agency investigation teams.
Establishing alternative opportunities, economies / livelihoods in communities living alongside reserves.
Ultimately, demand reduction amongst the user countries alongside
a global commitment to combat wildlife trafficking and a zero-tolerance approach towards wildlife atrocities.