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 Project Rhino AERIAL support 

This is a new initiative that Wildlands has launched with a view to eventually supporting effective helicopter and light aircraft support for rhino conservation efforts. This initiative builds on the success of two aerial support models tested by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

The first of these was the introduction of a Bantam Ultra-Light aircraft into Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. Two section rangers have been trained as pilots and they have used the Bantam to include regular boundary, road and local community patrols into their anti-poaching activities. This Bantam is currently averaging 40 – 60 hours per month.

The second is the King Shaka Aviation partnership with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, through which they have based a 2 seater helicopter in iMfolozi Game Reserve. The helicopter is used to patrol fence lines and reserve land, as well as to respond to poaching incidents. The helicopter flies a minimum of 20 hours a month and acts as an “eye in the sky” for field rangers. It can access remote dirt roads, monitor the reserve boundaries and observe known suspects homes for any signs of suspicious activity. The helicopter is deployed on an ad hoc basis, so that the poachers are always taken by surprise and cannot plan attacks around a predictable flying schedule.

Statistics suggest that 8-9 rhino were saved by the mere presence of the Bantam and helicopter in iMfolozi Game Reserve, acting as a poaching deterrent from October – February 2011 period. The local community members around iMfolozi have already given the helicopter a nick-name – iSagila, which means “a club” or “knobkerrie.” Not only because its shape resembles that very similar to this weapon, but also because it is being used in a similar way to catch, deter and ultimately punish these criminals.

There is little doubt that the positioning of additional aircraft and helicopters across northern KZN would have a significant impact on rhino poaching, especially in the private communal areas that do not enjoy the same level of paramilitary support that Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s conservation areas do.


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Wednesday the 18th.
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