South Africa has achieved unprecedented success over the past four decades with the preservation of rhino, to the point that we are now home to over 90 percent of all rhinos in Africa. Wilderness Foundation 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. This program, of the then Natal Parks Board, removed a number of white rhino from Imfolozi Game Reserve. At the time this was the last remaining habitat of the less than two-hundred southern white rhino. 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 our country a prime hunting ground for those seeking rhino horns illegally. It would seem that the black-market demand for rhino horn which has soared in the past few years, is largely due to the economic boom in east and Southeast Asia, where the horn is used for medicinal purposes. To put the scale of this problem into perspective; in 2007 we as a country lost 13 rhino to poaching, by 2009 the number had reached 124, in 2010 it rocketed to 335 and to date in 2011 (1 April) the number is already 110 which means that there is a rhino being poached every day. Poaching trends and the levels of sophistication in the killing of rhino, backed by enormous resources, are very alarming and require urgent intervention.
An anti poaching unit is a law enforcement element that has the direct responsibility of wildlife protection in a designated area. Their task is to patrol an area of responsibility in order to maintain an assertive and highly visual presence against poaching activities. Typical duties while on patrol are to arrest and apprehend poachers, rescue trapped or injured wildlife, report on wildlife movements and to maintain both a covert and overt presence in an area. These units are a front line deterrent in the war against rhino poaching and they are a necessity in all areas where wildlife is threatened. We are raising funds to help equip ant-poaching units in and around Rhino hotpots in our country. All donations made through this campaign will go towards anti-poaching efforts.