Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative

A Priority Project of Wilderness Foundation Global

forever wild logoSouth Africa has achieved unprecedented success over the past four decades with the preservation of rhino, to the point that it is now home to over 90 percent of all rhinos in Africa. Our founder Dr Ian Player is well known as being the initiator and team leader of the innovative and internationally acclaimed project ‘Operation Rhino’ in the late 1960′s. Through relocation, safe breeding groups were established elsewhere in the country and in the world. Operation Rhino successfully saved the southern white rhino from extinction and by 2010 there were over 17,000 white rhino in South Africa. Unfortunately this conservation success also makes South Africa a prime hunting ground for those seeking rhino horns illegally.

Rhino Facts:

  • South Africa is custodian to over 90% of the world’s rhino.
  • In 2010 alone, 333 rhino were killed in South Africa by poachers for their horn. In the first six-months of 2011, 200 rhinos were killed.
  • It has been proven that the horn has no medicinal value and is not a cure for cancer. However it is still sought after and mainly in the East.

The members of the Wilderness Network, which includes the Wilderness Foundation (Africa), Wilderness Foundation UK and WILD are taking urgent action to address steadily increasing levels of rhino poaching in South Africa.

In May 2011, the Wilderness Foundation set up a petition to voice the public’s outcry over the cruelty of rhino poaching. The petition, which was taken to the highest governmental powers in March 2012, is a vital part of the Wilderness Foundation’s lobbying campaign. It received over 18,000 signatures from around the world, and together with an integrated YouTube and social media campaign, generated worldwide awareness of the rhino poaching crisis.

Through a partnership with Safari Club International and the Magqubu Ntomebla Foundation, we established an expert team of informants with experience in intelligence gather and legal and forensic expertise. The goal of the informants, a project which was initiated at the end of 2010, is to collect information on the persons involved with the poaching, to better deter and detain poachers.

In June 2011, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles announced its sponsorship of six Volkswagen Amarok bakkies to the Rhino Protection Initiative. The R2-million sponsorship is part of the partnership between Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and the Wilderness Foundation, the pioneers and administrators of the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative.

Jaco Steenekamp, General Manager: Sales and Marketing at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “Our sponsorship of the Forever Wild campaign is Volkswagen’s contribution towards the fight against the poaching and preservation of the rhino population. We are confident that the smart but tough Amarok bakkie will be an ideal partner to the conservation agencies in combating poaching activities.”

He added: “Our partnership with the Wilderness Foundation supports Volkswagen’s ‘Think Blue’ philosophy which promotes cooperation with organisations that are environmentally conscious and work towards the sustainability of endangered species.”

Learn more about the Forever Wild Campaign >
**Please note: this webpage contains video material which those of a sensitive nature may find upsetting**

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Rhino Aware USA

South African Neale Howarth quit his teaching job to come to the United States, travel across the country, and speak with groups about the plight of the rhino. Neale’s story is an example of turning passion in to action – combining his love for teaching, his personal connection to the rhino, and his desire to travel and turning it in to a mission that aims to mobilize youth to take their own passion and create meaningful action in the context of their own communities.

> Read Neale’s final report