IRF works with local partner, Stop Rhino Poaching (SRP), to protect and grow the population of black and white rhinos through monitoring, anti-poaching efforts, and community involvement.
A country-wide lockdown in South Africa in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an unexpected benefit to rhinos and other wildlife – a decrease in poaching incidents. However, as restrictions loosen and the economy continues to worsen, concerns are rising that more could turn to poaching as jobs are lost.
Kruger National Park’s Intensive Protection Zone reported zero rhino poaching incidents in April, the first month without any poaching incidents since 2007. Before the lockdown, Poachers often entered Kruger in a vehicle as day visitors and utilized local informants to help them find rhinos and avoid rangers.
As the lockdown restrictions have eased, poaching is increasing once again, causing concern that the devastation of the economy and widespread job losses may push more people to rhino poaching.
The International Rhino Foundation established the Reserve Relief Fund to provide gap funding for ranger salaries and equipment. More than $200,000 in grants have been awarded to nine reserves to ensure protection of rhino continues.
Rhino Operations in South Africa
Our annual conservation operations include:
- Boots on the Ground
- Special Training
- Early Warning and Community Involvement
- Investigation and Forensic Techniques
- Rhino Dogs
- Law Enforcement Crackdown
- Poaching Deterrents
- Translocating Rhinos to Safety
- Intensive Monitoring and Tracking
- Demand Reduction
Latest News from South Africa
Working under constant pressure can take its toll on rangers, the frontline of protection for rhinos in South Africa. For many rangers, this war has been relentless, requiring the skills of a battle-honed soldier. Compounding the challenges faced in the field, family life is put on the back burner, resulting in a breakdown of family relationships. Rangers and their families are often isolated within the communities they live, which also harbor poachers. Rangers often face death threats and their families are threatened.
SRP has developed relationships and trust amongst the ranger units and developed Project Embrace. Focusing on the psychological well-being of rangers in Kruger National Park, the project was developed in partnership with the Game Rangers Association-initiated Ranger Wellbeing Project. The wellness program works directly with rangers and their families, tailoring support to their needs.
In addition to supporting the mental health needs of the teams, SRP also works to instill confidence in rangers by equipping them with what they need to survive and thrive in their protection roles. Items like first aid kits that we take for granted are sometimes in short supply and essential for rangers health.
New technology is also under testing to provide rangers with the latest advancements in wildlife crime monitoring and apprehension.