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South Africa: You protect what you know

Update: Since 2022, Rapunzel donates the HAND IN HAND donation (previously HAND IN HAND Fund) to the RAPUNZEL One World Organic Foundation.

The rhinoceros’s horn is worth its weight in gold. It fetches similar prices on the Asian black market as a miracle cure for cancer and as a potency aid. No wonder that illegal hunting of these gray giants continues to increase. For those suffering from unemployment and poverty, the lucrative business is often too appealing to pass up.

The Somkhanda Community Game Reserve has come up with a novel way of dealing with this problem. After the end of Apartheid, the 16,000 hectares area was awarded to the Gumbi Clan and converted into a nature preserve. The park provides ideal conditions for white and black rhinoceroses. But even here poaching is a serious problem.

To counteract this, the South African environmental organization Wildlands Conservation Trust (WCT), in cooperation with their German partners Global Nature Fund (GNF), have used two techniques to gain leverage. To protect the rhinos, GPS transmitters were implanted in the horns through a painless procedure. These transmitters help to locate the animals. Any unusual behaviour among the animals is picked up by the gamekeepers, who can then intervene more quickly and easily. An alternative source of income for the inhabitants might come from the development of sustainable wildlife tourism.

Workshops are provided to teach the local residents the value of protecting the rhinoceroses. Most children had never even seen a live animal in a reserve. “People protect what they know” is the motto of this project that is generously supported by the Hand in Hand-Fund.

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