On World Rhino Day on September 22nd we want to give you an update from the field about our project.
Beverly and I will also be stepping into the CoP17 meetings (the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES) which will take place in Johannesburg, starting on September 24th to listen and to voice an opinion on why we should not be trading in rhino horn, and how if we do, that it will open up the floodgates on poaching. I hope that sanity prevails or our mission will have to gear up quickly.
There is a strong lobby in South Africa for the trade in rhino horn, even though it doesn’t actually do anything medically and as such, in my opinion, selling it as a bogus medicine is morally bankrupt besides the stimulation of the market and those repercussions.
Our Great Plains Foundation fundraising is gearing up and we have enough money now to move another 25-30 rhinos, which will take us over the half-way mark.
A pivotal deal we made last year is coming to fruition this week. GoPro, the makers of small, action cameras (some, I have used in our films recently because I finally realized that it was better to place a $400 GoPro and run away than hide in a hole and have elephants walk over me) have been very generous in supporting us this last year. They brought a crew out for the last rhino release in Botswana and filmed it from every angle. Click here or on the image below to view the results of that work. The video has been released on GoPro’s social media channels and we are hoping that our small rhino effort will attract a lot if interest from their followers.
But what is very interesting is that GoPro have pledged to match whatever donations are raised for this project via their platform. That means that anyone who may have been thinking of donating can now ‘double down’ in many ways and have GoPro match, dollar for dollar.
This is the link to challenge GoPro to step up and match your donation!
Funding is always an issue but finding rhinos has been something I have been pushing and worried about for some time. I am concerned that if we delay much longer, (now that that critical point has been reached where rhinos can no longer breed as fast as they are being poached) we won’t find rhinos to move!
Already there are concerns that black rhinos are so widely distributed and in such low numbers that we will soon reach that point where males can’t find females to be able to breed.
Last week we acquired our next 6 rhinos from South Africa thanks to many of you and your support. I want to build this to the ideal 10 number that has worked for us before. We are also in discussions to get 25-30 additional rhinos early next year, when the summer heat drops again. The 8 Wolf Patrol Anti-Poaching vehicles with help from WildAid are in the hands of the Botswana Department of Wildlife and ready to bolster their protection of these rhinos.
At our release sites (which remain secret), halfway across the continent from the heavy poaching, we have started to see the results of rhinos being moved into a stress-free world with water and grazing and the full protection of the Botswana government, and they have started to produce calves. Our imports have produced 3 new calves this last two months (making it 5 so far).
I am attaching Sven’s report (our head of Monitoring) so you can see the incredible work that he and his team are doing. (This ground operation is led by Poster the star of our film Rhinos Rescue some years ago.)
Find the full monitoring report here.
And they certainly are doing the time. We have a small but growing team (we will grow in proportion to new rhinos and funding.) Our fleet is working well, and we may need to add a small boat to get through the deep channels in the Okavango and our aircraft comes on line soon, once it has been registered. In our Joint Operations Center we can now track our rhinos every few hours from signals from those that have been fitted with VHF transmitters. It is an impressive operation.
We have approached this the right way in my mind. We identified a problem, found a solution and then geared up so that we could slowly and consistently move the rhinos and at the same time not just dump them on government’s lap to take care of. Monitoring is crucial.
Some people are worried about poaching even in Botswana. I am too. But I am confident that when poaching (and it will) comes to Botswana in an increased way, we are well prepared. What we cannot do is back down in the face of potential poaching and do nothing.
You, and all of us at Great Plains Foundation, are not the ‘do nothing’ kind of people. That much is clear from your support of this project.
Thank you all so very much. With Anna now on board as Foundation Director we will be getting you more regular dispatches from the field.
Dereck Joubert - CEO
Great Plains Conservation/Great Plains Foundation