You can help save them

South Africa’s rhino are in grave danger – but they can be saved providing South Africans from all walks of life become involved.

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Having bred 1 632 rhino in captivity during his lifetime and invested more than US$100-million of his own money into the project, John Hume of Buffalo Dream Ranch has reached his financial limit and, unless there is public participation the dream could fade away.

Buffalo Dream Ranch (BDR) is the world’s largest Captive Rhino Breeding Project and is hidden away in the flat, dry savanna of the North West Province of South Africa.

BDR was founded and funded entirely by John, now 76, and the project recently celebrated the birth of its first ‘F2’, or second generation, rhino calf on the project which is an outstanding achievement for any breeding operation.

More than 300 of their dams (females) are pregnant right now, and due to give birth over the next 18 months, many more of which will be ‘F2’s’. This equates to close to 10% of the world’s remaining White Rhinos.

BDR’s mission is simple. It is ‘To Breed Better and Protect Better’ in their attempt to move this iconic species away from extinction. They hope this financial year to eventually meet their breeding target of 200 calves per annum.

However, John has now finally reached the end of his financial wherewithal to continue protecting these rhinos. This cash flow crisis they find themselves in has caused BDR to give notice of termination to the private army of foot soldiers who protect their rhino, as they can no longer afford their services.

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In fact, as soon as August this year, there will be no money left to even fund the day-to-day operation of the project, leaving the future of nearly 2 000 rhino in severe jeopardy.

John has always maintained that key to the success of BDR and, in fact, to saving the rhino from extinction, is legalised trade in rhino horn. BDR routinely trim horns primarily to render their rhino less attractive to poachers.

They currently hold a stockpile of 6,5 tons of horn in vaults around South Africa, which if valued at the reported wholesale price of US$20 000 a kg, amounts to US$130-million.

Imagine how much ‘good’ all this money could do for the conservation of African rhino, if only it was released into the pockets of legitimate rhino owners, instead of lining the pockets of criminals! Sadly though, the CITES ban on international trade persists and the South African Government continue to hamper the sale of horn in our domestic market, so the BDR project finds itself in this very difficult financial situation. It should also be noted that BDR has, to date, not received a single cent of support from any Government, NGO or Charity throughout their journey.

There are a number of alternative initiatives currently underway which, with the help of an impassioned public, might just be able to steer BDR through their cashflow crisis, and secure the future of nearly 2 000 rhinos. These include:

1) Search for one or more partners – Probably the most viable solution is for John to find one or more wealthy impact investors with a passion for conservation of rhino, and a recognition of the potential for returns through trade in horn.

He is ready to sell up to 50% of his BDR Captive Breeding Operation (CBO) to secure the future of his rhino. These partners would then work together with John to continue lobbying both the South African Government and CITES to ease up the horn trade environment and deliver BDR to sustainability through a legal and sustainable trade in horn.

A search for these illusive benefactors is currently underway, and BDR would be grateful if any party interested, and in a position to provide the required investment, would make urgent contact.

2) Rhino Coin – The second initiative is the recently launched, and still relatively unknown Rhino Coin. This is an innovative new proudly South African Crypto-Conservation initiative that issues 1 Rhino Coin for every 1g of ethically sourced blood-free horn secured in vaults in South Africa. See https://www.rhinocoin.com/ for more details of how you can get involved.

A Foundation has been established by Rhino Coin to ensure proceeds go directly back to real live rhinos on the ground. Rhino Coin is currently tradable against ZAR, Bitcoin and Ethereum, and can be traded on the CornuEx exchange.

3) Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign – The final initiative is a direct appeal to the hearts and minds of a very generous public for donations through and Indiegogo Campaign which can be found here http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-protect-rhinos-from-poachers-security-community.

Funds from this campaign will go directly towards the implementation of a state-of-the-art early warning electronic security system which will significantly cut BDR’s monthly running costs and allow them to continue the good work they are doing breeding rhino.

As Robert Swan, the first man to walk to both Poles, once said: “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”.

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Rhino wrangler

The job of saving South Africa’s rhino population from the insiduous – and growing – poaching threat is a thankless and often dangerous task.

Being able to respond quickly and efficiently is vital and Goodyear has now extended its sponsorship of Wrangler tyres for the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative, the seveth year this has been renewed.

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“The rangers made a specific request to have Goodyear Wranglers fitted to the vehicles,” says Wilderness Foundation’s chief operations officer, Matthew Norval. “This is the seventh year that VW has sponsored Amarok vehicles for our Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative. Our rangers were delighted that Goodyear Wranglers were again fitted to their vehicles, as they have proven the tyres offer better traction and are much more robust than other tyres we have tried.”

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Norval is positive about the impact that the initiative has had over the last few years.

“Wilderness Foundation Africa started the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative in 2011, recognising the rhino poaching crisis was of national and international significance and affected all levels of society. Wildlife crime is the fourth most profitable illicit trade in the world, estimated at up to $213-billion annually.”

The Initiative has a four-pronged approach in response that includes:

  • Support anti-poaching actions on the ground in private and state protected areas
  • Curb demand for rhino horn in user countries
  • Increase security and law enforcement activities through the Wildlife Operations Group, a multi-agency partnership coordinated by Wilderness Foundation Africa
  • Increase public awareness

“We are working in partnership with various organisations to address the issue.  Goodyear South Africa has been on board since the start,” says Norval.

“Goodyear is proud to be a partner that assists proactive rhino protection and anti-poaching activities. As a leading 4×4 tyre brand in South Africa we are honoured Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure tyres were the rangers’ tyre of choice and contributes to their safety and comfort on challenging terrain,” says Tracy Maclear, Goodyear South Africa Group Marketing & Brand Manager.

Geshen Govender, Goodyear Consumer Product Manager explains the benefits of having these tyres fitted to the conservation vehicles.

“Being an all-terrain tyre, the Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure is suited to both on- and off-road travelling. The Kevlar reinforced layer, coupled with Durawall technology, resists punctures and cuts in off-road driving conditions. The optimised tread design ensures even pressure distribution across the tyre footprint for improved mileage.  The tyre is a well-suited fit to their requirements.”

In a separate, but related gesture, Goodyear also named Wilderness Foundation Africa as its beneficiary during the recent Speed Stars television show that aired on Ignition TV. Goodyear South Africa made a cash donation of R10 000 towards the Foundation’s continued conservation efforts.

“Goodyear’s donation was very welcome.  We appreciate their ongoing commitment to our cause and the loyalty they exhibit to the preservation of the wilderness”, says Cheryl Reynolds, Relationship & Communications Manager at Wilderness Foundation Africa.

 

St Lucia restored

estuary-hippo-and-friend estuary-hippo estuary-sunset st-lucia-pub-and-grubThe rumble of tour buses and the somewhat raspier rattle of open game viewing vehicles are a constant through the small town of St Lucia, perched on a narrow strip of land between the Indian Ocean and the Lake St Lucia estuary. Just three streets wide, the town’s main thoroughfare is packed to the gills with accommodations, restaurants and curio shops to feed and house the seemingly endless flow of (mainly) foreign tourists all eager to snap a photo memory of the ‘real’ Africa.

And, real it is!

Only recently a Cape town doctor and his wife were walking back to their lodgings after dinner and were attacked by a hippo. Fortunately, a passing motorist gave the beast a nudge with his vehicle, the hippo releasing the doctor with a nasty but not life-threatening bite.

Having hippo and other wildlife wandering around the streets at night is not uncommon and we got the feeling something the locals rather enjoy – and so they should, as the story could have worked out quite differently.

Lake St Lucia is an eco-wonderland, home to more than 80% of all the bird species in South Africa and the playground of hundreds of hippo and crocodile – along with about 60 Bull sharks that became trapped in the lake.

The last time the lake was full was in 2000 – also the last time it was open to the sea and the sharks – and the savage drought that raged since then reduced the surface area of the lake to just 10%.

With no fresh water coming in the hippo and crocodile that could, moved back into the uMfolozi River, while thousands of fish died in the chronically increasing saline waters. By November 2016, with good inflows from the uMfolozi River, 90% of the Lake’s surface area was covered and levels are maintaining.

Salinity is low and the hippos and crocodiles have returned in numbers – but the eco system is not yet out of the woods.

The restoration of the Lake St Lucia system is now making a visible difference to the landscape and nature. From the vantage point of the St Lucia Ski Boat Club and Estuary Boardwalk, the view across to Maphelane is dramatically different to that of several months ago, as the dredge spoil and other deposited material is steadily removed.

Lake St Lucia forms part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and its CEO, Andrew Zaloumis, says: “The removal of the first 96 842 cubic metres of material obstructing the natural course of the uMfolozi River has begun to reverse its negative impact on the hydrological and ecological functioning of the 350 km2 Lake St Lucia estuarine system.

“This is South Africa’s largest and ecologically most significant wetland rehabilitation project. Water levels in the Lake St Lucia system have increased dramatically on the back of the recent rains, which resulted in strong flows from the uMfolozi River into Lake St Lucia.

“Ninety percent of the Lake’s surface area is now covered and the Lake is once again a single body of water no longer compartmentalised and joined via the Narrows to the mouth.”

For now the crisis has been averted and the right things are being dome to restore the natural workings of the system – and, thankfully the tour buses rumble on.

Source: St Lucia restored