One step closer to saving our Rhino

RHINO DARTING TEAM 2013

Rhino Darting Team 2013 – The team dedicated to conservation consisting of staff from Wildlands, Wildlife ACT Fund, the vet Mike Toft, Shaun Pollock and Filippo Faralla. PHOTOGRAPHER: LUKE PALLET

On the weekend of the 13th of July a team of professionals descended on a gem of a Game Reserve in Zululand with a common purpose of saving Rhino. The focus of the weekend was to dart several rhino within the reserve and fit them with both VHF (Very High Frequency) UHF (Ultra High Frequency) real time tracking devices. This helps to ensure the animals can be monitored more effectively and ensures a decreased response time when reacting to any potential poaching threats.

This forms part of Project Rhino Tracker, a project of the Wildlands Conservation Trust, only possible with funds donated by passionate individuals. In this case the conservation activities were made possible by a generous donation from Durban North resident Filippo Faralla. Shaun Pollock, a Wildlands ambassador, also joined the team, together with his wife, Tricia and their two beautiful little girls.

“The experience my family and I had this weekend was truly unforgettable,” commented Shaun Pollock. “I am so glad we got to be a part of this amazing experience that will ultimately ensure my children’s children get to see live rhino one day… truly priceless,” he said.

The day’s activities involved a highly experienced team including a helicopter pilot and a vet, as well as a team from Wildlife ACT Fund, who specialise in the fitting (and monitoring) of endangered species with advanced technology.

“It is tough to see such a huge animal helpless as it is immobilised by a drug in order to be worked on,” said Marketing Manager at Wildlands, Lauren Laing. “But you simply need to remind yourself how important this sort of work is on order to achieve the long term vision and to help save the species,” she said. “We also must acknowledge ambassadors like Filippo Faralla and Shaun Pollock for their support, as without them this experience would not have been possible,” said Laing.

“One must remember that the objective of projects such as this is not for the benefit of Wildlands but for the surrounding communities,” said donor Filippo Faralla. “Wildlands are training community members involved in the running of the Reserve and have a long term vision to build something substantial (an Eco Tourism destination) for them, and yes, we are saving Rhino from an immediate threat in the process, but the vision Wildlands has goes beyond that,” he said.

“The interesting fact is that this Game Reserve is the perfect sort of habitat for Black Rhino to live in, and it is ultimately the Black Rhino that has brought Wildlands and the community together, with sustainability as the driving force,” said Filippo.

Although this work will make a significant difference in Wildlands ability to fight the rhino poaching crisis there is still more work that needs to be done. If you would like to contribute to Wildlands Rhino Conservation Projects or explore the possibility of Adopting a Rhino please email MarkG@wildlands.co.za.

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A comforting touch from participants, including that of passionate conservation ambassador, Filippo Faralla. PHOTOGRAPHER: LUKE PALLET