30 April 2018

SA's Most Recent Rhino Poaching Incident

Submitted by Michelle Marais
SA's Most Recent Rhino Poaching Incident

It has been an emotional week for the owner of Aquila Private Game Reserve, Searl Derman, and its Saving Private Rhino organisation (SPR), as they celebrate two years since the national launch of its 24 Hour Rapid Rhino Response initiative.

This added service, as an extension of the work that the SPR NGO is already doing, offer 24-hour free support to game reserves in South Africa in the event of a rhino poaching. Services include free expert advice, free rhino carer dispatched to the reserve, assistance in searching for orphaned rhino, first aid and care, and if required, transportation to a secure location in the Western Cape. 

Aquila Private Game Reserve lived through its own rhino poaching horror in 2011, and the owner Searl Derman, committed his reserves efforts, through the establishment of Saving Private Rhino, to the protection and preservation of these endangered species.

In the last year, the world mourned the loss of the last northern male White Rhino, named Sudan, and the Saving Private Rhino teams attended at least six horrific poaching scenes across the country.

In the last two weeks alone, Aquila’s NGO, Saving Private Rhino, was dispatched to two incidents of rhino poaching. In a very emotional search and rescue effort for a 3-week old baby - after the anti-poaching unit spotted a baby wandering a vast bush terrain alone - the teams came across the poached White Rhino mother. The mother was previously dehorned by the particular reserve in an effort to protect their rhinos, but nevertheless, she was murdered for the remaining horn.

After a week of pursuit, the teams had to call off their helicopter search - as the odds of survival for a rhino baby with no nourishment from its mother for more than 7 days, were not in the favour of the orphan.

Aquila, together with Saving Private Rhino, once again urges collective awareness of the crisis and calls on the public for donations in its cause to protect and safeguard rhino for future generations.

The response teams are currently at an undisclosed 26000-hectare reserve in the north of South Africa, in a desperate search and rescue mission for another orphaned baby rhino. In this latest rhino poaching incident in South Africa, the anti-poaching unit came across the horrible scene of a poached female rhino. 

Her orphaned baby is 3 months old and it is estimated that the mother has been dead for 5 days. The teams on the ground confirm that the baby would not be able to survive for more than 10 days without nourishment from its mother - and it is therefore critical to find the orphan within days to stabilize and support it.

The teams are optimistic about their current mission and other organisations have joined the co-funded approach to secure air support and other reinforcements. They have found fresh baby rhino droppings and spoor.

A scouting helicopter for this mission comes at a major cost (estimated at about R6000 per hour), and Saving Private Rhino invites the public to help fight the cause and keep the helicopter in the air. To assist, please visit www.savingprivaterhino.org for more information, or follow the live updates of the current rescue mission on Facebook viawww.facebook.com/savingprivaterhino.

“Our organisation has and its members have won the most prestigious South African and International Awards for responsible tourism. We continue our pledge and commitment to support other private reserves in South Africa through our NGO SPR, as our own experience with anti-poaching units, rhino orphans and the most horrific recent incidents over the last two weeks, prove that we cannot stop the fight”, Searl Derman concluded.

Aquila recently successfully trained rangers and provided K-9 dog anti-poaching skills to private game reserves and government institutions. 

Searl Derman, owner of Aquila and founder of SPR also received an award from the Minister and Deputy Minister of Tourism, for Best Economic Impact by a large tourism establishment in South Africa; promoting the local economic development of communities and ensuring industry sustainability.

Saving Private Rhino also received the 2016 Steve Irwin Visionary Wildlife Warrior Award in Australia through its rhino ambassador, Hunter Mitchell.

Note: the rhino poaching incidents during the last two weeks mentioned in the press release was not at Aquila. Aquila funds and manages the Aquila Animal Rescue Centre NGO and Saving Private Rhino initiative.