In May of 2011, The Wilderness Foundation (SA), with the support of The WILD Foundation & Wilderness Foundation (UK), launched the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative. This initiative aims to gather support from the public and various stakeholders to help fight against rhino poaching in South Africa and save the rhino from extinction in the wild.
The highly effective Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative was given a boost in June 2011 through the sponsorship of six Volkswagen Amarok vehicles from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. The vehicles were allocated to various reserves and anti-poaching units across the country, each managed by the Wilderness Foundation’s Forever Wild Conservation Programme team. The vehicles were replaced by VW in June 2013, with the contract renewed for a further 12 months.
From June 2011 to June 2013, the teams supported by the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative were involved in the arrest of over 80 suspected poachers, the confiscation of over 20 firearms, and the recovery of seven rhino horn, as well as hundreds of extended patrols in parks around the country, several rhino notching exercises, the translocation of a number of rhino for safety reasons, and many public awareness events.
The Wilderness Foundation has also raised more than R8,000,000 towards the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative in the last 24 months. Funds have been allocated to the following ongoing initiatives and projects:
- Vehicle support for the north West Parks and Tourisn Agency reserves anti-poaching/canine units
- Aerial support in the Eastern Cape
- Four-wheelers and other equipment to allow rangers to patrol larger areas as part of their poaching prevention strategies
- Education materials & fact sheets
- A rhino hot-line has been set up to receive calls and tip-offs related to rhino poaching
- A Rhino Survivor Fund has been set up to assist in cases where rhinos have been poached for their horn but are still alive and able to be rehabilitated
- Training for anti-poaching intelligence training and wildlife trade training for airport staff
- Sniffer dogs
- DNA & tracking device project- thus far a total of 22 rhinos have been fitted with tracking devices
- Research project in Kruger National Park which tracks, monitors & studies rhino survivors after poaching incidents