Since 2010, there have been a total of 7 720 rhinos poached in South Africa. Last year alone, an average of 2 rhinos were poached every day in South Africa and it is in light of these harrowing statistics that Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has renewed its sponsorship and support of the Wilderness Foundation Africa’s fight against rhino poaching.
‘‘The rhino plays a key role in the ecosystem and is also pivotal for our country’s eco-tourism. South Africa has the biggest concentration of rhino in the world, which we want to protect and preserve for generations to come and it is this reason that Volkswagen Commercial made a decision back in 2011 to support Wilderness Foundation Africa’s anti-poaching activities,“ said Andile Dlamini, Head of Volkswagen Group South Africa Communications.
The Forever Wild Rhino Initiative provides logistical and operational support for conservation and law enforcement agencies responsible for rhino management and security. It is also involved in raising public awareness of the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa, managing a rhino anti-poaching tip off hotline as well as managing and implementing a rhino horn demand reduction campaign in Vietnam.
Additional key activities of the Forever Wild Rhino Initiative include vehicle support, rhino rescue support, dog support, air support, intelligence gathering and specialist support, rhino syndicate investigations and Eastern Cape Rhino DNA collection.
In the last eight years, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has supported the initiative through the sponsorship of Amarok pick-ups. The Amaroks have operated in South Africa’s rhino population hot spots in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Mpumalanga, North West, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
The R2 million annual sponsorship sees six Amaroks being used for
on-the-ground protection of rhino populations, rhino and wildlife crime syndicate investigation support, rhino DNA collection, air support for rhino security and rhino monitoring, supporting of K9 units, treating rhino that have survived poaching incidents, education and awareness of the rhino poaching crisis and education of the youth from communities surrounding game reserves.
This year, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will also be supporting Wilderness Foundation Africa’s Rhino Horn Demand Reduction Campaign. This campaign aims to reduce the demand for rhino horn in Vietnam, which is one of the largest end-markets of illegal rhino horn. Wilderness Foundation Africa has been working with the youth in Vietnam since 2014 and this year 14 Vietnamese youth will be travelling to South Africa to take part in wilderness trails and workshops in Mfolozi Game Reserve.
‘‘We are proud that for the past eight years, the Amaroks have driven more than one million kilometres protecting South Africa’s rhino population and are proud to continue supporting the important cause,“ concluded Dlamini.
"Wilderness Foundation Africa appreciates the ongoing support of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and the Amaroks allow us to carry out a wide range of activities in support of the effort to stop rhino poaching and end the demand for rhino horn. The first fleet supplied in 2011 enabled us to mobilise the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative and Volkswagen have been a key partner ever since." says Matthew Norval, Chief Operations Officer at WFA.