Rhino Orphanage Support
Rehabitate Wildlife Fund supports the two primary rhino orphanages in KwaZulu-Natal. One services the government reserves and the other the private reserves. Both orphanages take in orphans after poaching events. Both orphanages are in undisclosed locations due to security reasons.
The last 10 years has seen an unfathomable increase in rhino poaching which has led to orphaned calves. In some cases the poachers will badlt injure the baby to stop it trying to protect its mother and bother them as they remove the horn. In other cases the calves are driven off and can be left wandering the reserve alone for many days before, if ever, they are found. They are also extremely vulnerable to lions and other large predators during this time.
These babies are usually deeply compromised and highly traumatised. They require specialised care and attention by trained professionals. A baby rhino needs milk every 2 hours, 24 hours a day so it is intensive work too.
Once stabalised, the orphans are raised to be rhinos again and rewilded until they are able to be released back into protcetd areas. They need to be adjusted to local diseases and parastites (such as ticks), be able to feed themselves, protect themselves, and know how to socially be a rhino.
The orphanages have successfully released multiple rhinos, both black and white, into reserves where they have integrated into the population and are holding territories and socialising.
Rehabitate supports both orphanages with food for the baby rhinos (specialsied milk mixtures and supplements), grazing for the white rhinos, and browse for the black rhinos. We also help with equipment needs when possible.
K9 Unit Food and Equipment
On many of the rhinos reserve, the K9 unit is a critical part of the thin green line. These brave dogs and their handlers have led to the arrests of many poachers and the saving of rhinos on the reserve.
The dogs are highly trained and extremely valuable. Some are trained as tracking and biting dogs and are usually Belgian Malinois while others are purely cold scent dogs such as the Doberman/Bloodhound Crosses, which can follow older scents for up to 8 hours old.
On some reserves Boerboels are the last line of defence to protect staff.
We support multiple units and reserves through our Petemed programme and we currently support 2 major rhino reserves with Hills dog food to keep the dogs healthy and performing at their best in difficult terrain.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve K9 units are currently our primary focus but we plan to extend this programme to other reserves when practical. Our partners As Wild As have committed to fully fund the supply for these two reserves indefinitely.
Books for Rangers
This project was designed to provide rangers learning options while at work. Many rangers continue to further their studies but are limited by not having access to decent information to complete assignments. With the incredible donation by Stephen Hughes, we purchased a complete set of field guides covering all major subjects for 6 rangers camps, the management office, and the research camp at Tembe Elephant Park. This totaled 45 books and was our first ever project completed.
Each camp had the exact same set of books so as rangers rotated during patrols, they could continue where they left off at the last camp.
Secondly, the older rangers with incredible experince and many of whom could not read English could now share knowledge with the younger rangers and discuss identifications and behaviours of species combining the books learned knowledge and the traditional knowledge.
Uniforms for Rangers
Uniforms for 81 rangers and 30 bush hats where donated by Rehabitate WIldlife Fund to staff in Ndumo Game Reserve, Tembe Elephant Park, and Sileza Game Reserve.
Rangers work in the tohgest of environments – with temperatures reaching above 45°C and humidity close to 100%. The Zululand and Maputaland bush is full of thorny plants and the ground is hard and slippery when wet. Elephants, rhinos, buffalo, lions and many other animals are extremely dangerous and a ranger has to always be alert and focused.
Having decent uniforms and good strong boots that are light but tough can be the difference between life and death and make the work of a ranger so much easier.
Boots for Rangers
Thirty pairs of specialised military style boots where donated to the Tembe Elephant Park rangers, APU Unit, and staff.
The primary role of a ranger is to patrol the reserve -this means an exceptional amount of walking in tough terrain. Good boots are one of the most essential pieces of equipment a ranger can have.
Rehabitate Wildlife Fund has partnered with PeteMed to supply frontline wildlife entities with PeteMed – units. This neutralizes poisons and toxins before they are systemically absorbed.
This is ideal for K9 units who are often targetted by poachers using highly toxic substances like Temmik (Aldicarb). The areas we work in are also extremely biodiverse and there are multiple toxic plants, grasshoppers, and more that can cause the death of the dogs. PeteMed gives the handlers a chance to save their partners. These units have been supplied to the K9 units in Kruger National Park, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, Manyoni Private Game Reserve, and &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve.
These units have also been provided to FreeMe Wildlife for poisoning treatment for all species involved in human-wildlife conflict, to Vulpro for the use on vultures, to the Msunduze Veterinary Clinic, Wildlife ACT, and many others. Petemed supplies them at cost and Rehabitate purchases them to give to frontline wildlife carers for free.
This has already led to the saving of dogs and raptors directly through this programme.
Dehorning is the process of darting and removing the front and back horns of a rhino. This is to reduce the value and make it less of a target for poachers. It is similar to a person cutting their hair or nails, and the horn regrows after around 18 months and must be redone. It is an expensive process and required helicopters, vets and an experienced ground crew – but in our region alone it has decreased the chance of poaching by around 96%. Along with boots on the ground – this is the most successful strategy in protecting rhinos.
Studies on the effects are continuous and in many reserves, and thus far there has been no alarming issues. Rhinos can still defend themselves and their calves, can forage for food easily, and there has been no noticeable impacts socially. We do all work towards the day when we can see all rhinos roaming the landscape with their full set of horns, but until a living rhino is worth more than their horns, then we are going to continue this fight. A living rhino can sell for as little as R60 000 while an average front horn alone can fetch as much as R6 000 000 (US$ 4,000.00 versus US$400,000.00).
Pangolins were once considered functionally extinct in KwaZulu-Natal. Our founding members were instrumental in putting together the original concept, reserve identification, and strategy for reintroducing pangolins to the region. This concept document simply got the ball rolling and the project was implemented by the exceptional and forward thinking managers at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and later Manyoni Private Game Reserve. The projects is in partnership with the African Pangolin Working Group. Rehabitate has since provided ID kits to aid in the identification of ant and termite prey species as well as brought in Africa’s top ant expert to give ant advice. We hope to complete a large study on regional prey preference and help calculate the carrying capacity of the reserves for future re-introductions. Rehabitate currently supports the project through funding tracking devices and other expenses.
Wildlife Tracking and Monitoring
Obtaining tracking data is crucial for reserves. This allows animal movements to be monitored for research purpose and the better inform management decisions. Being able to find and observe populations allows reserves to know what they have, where they go, what they eat, and who they associate with.
Rehabitate partners with AWE and has been involved in multiple tracking projects across a variety of reserves:
- Installation of 2 Base Stations Tembe Elephant Park – Status: Completed
- Installation of 2 base Stations Thanda Private Game Reserve – Status: Completed
- Deployment of 2 Creature Reacher Tembe and Thanda –Status: Completed
- Collars of 3 elephant Thanda – Status: Completed
- Collaring of 4 Hyenas for Thanda – Status: Completed
- Collaring of Free Roaming Cheetah 1 Cheetah Outreach Project – Status: Completed
- Collar of Free Roaming Cheetah 2 Cheetah Outreach Project – Status: Completed
- Rhino pod on 1 rhino – Manyoni – Status: Completed
- Tracking devices on 2 pangolins Manyoni – Status: Completed
Plants of Value
Our region is a Centre of Endemism and is particularly globally recognised for plant diversity. Many of these plants have traditional medicine value, craft value, or are threatened due to loss of habitat and over utilisation.
Rehabitate has started a pilot project for selected species to provide solutions for the issues faced by certain plants. This is the groundwork for restoration projects, and a community focused nursery.
This is a planned project that still needs an MOU to be completed between Rehabitate-Ubuntu and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife – with verbal commitments made. The primary role we will play is to support the turtle project, one of the longest running globally, and the staff who maintain this programme. Five of the seven world’s turtle species are found here with loggerhead (vulnerable) and leatherback (critically endangered) turtles also breeding on our coastline.
Battling the constant scourge of syndicated poaching requires reliable communications. Rehabitate teamed up with AliSom Communications and Vodacom to install 3 brand new signal booster aerials and repair on existing aerial in Ndumo Game Reserve.
This allowed for strong reliable mobile signal to reach between the reserve offices, the managers house, the research house and ranger camp.
Miscellaneous Community Support
Rehabitate believes in a holistic approach which includes supporting the needs of people who surround conservation areas. Other than specific community involved projects, we have provided support when able within the Tembe and Mduku Communities.
This includes the provision of a washing machine, multiple mobile phones, a television and DVD player, and hundreds of items of clothing, linen, and bedding.
Stationery has also been provided to a rural school in Tembe through a donation from the children and teachers of a Taiwanese school – which included wonderful letters of introduction by each Taiwanese pupil to the children in Africa.
Lion Conservation Mozambique
Rehabitate with Biologists Without Borders supported the Greater Limpopo Lion Project. There were approximately 100 free-roaming wild lions in the Mozambique component of the Greater Limpopo Lion Conservation Unit, with sufficient prey to support more than 300 hundred lions.
The objectives were to determine the space used by lion prides through GPS tracking and use these data to
1) target snare removal, poisoned carcass removal and conflict mitigation from identified lion home-ranges,
2) target snare removal in key potential lion habitat to facilitate the natural re-colonization of lions, and
3) implement a targeted monitoring program (using camera trapping) of lion status and poaching trends to enable adaptive conservation management of the region’s wild lion population.
We provided the project with:
- A DanInject Dart gun with DanInject barrel and a second PneuDart barrel
- Hard carry case
- Red dot scope
- Specialised batteries
- 43 Pneudarts
- 5 Practice darts
- 6 CO2 gas cylinders
- 2 Lion stretcher
- Funding to cover logistics of Fuel, Food, and Accommodation for the duration of the project
Small Mammal Traps
One hundred and thirty seven small mammal traps were donated by Biologist’s Without Borders and received by Rehabitate for research projects. The Tomahwak and Sherman traps are ethical live traps of varying sizes and able to trap mammals ranging from a caracal down to the smallest mouse. These animals can then be released immediately back into their environment or moved to a new area if necessary. Rehabitate provided all these traps to other organisations who were conducting permitted conservation work.