June 2015

Greetings to all our friends and supporters! It seems that the sounds of Christmas carols in the shopping malls have only just faded, we have already finished all our Easter eggs, we have passed the shortest day of the year, and it won’t be long before those Christmas carols start off again…the year is rapidly whizzing on!
So it was high time for a little news from the EWT Rhino Project to give you an idea of what we have been up to over the past few months, starting as always with one of our favourite projects – the dogs.

 

Every dog has his day:
Thanks to generous funding from the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, we have three new canine recruits helping with the fight against poaching – detection/attack dog Bullet at Addo National Elephant Park, detection/tracker dog Belgian Malinois Xena at Marakele National Park, and detection dog Vito and handler PH at Save the Waterberg Rhino. All the dogs have been trained to detect rhino horn, elephant ivory as well as arms and ammunitions, and will be working at reserve gates, at roadblocks and doing residential searches in their respective areas. We wish them all great success!

This approach is already bearing fruit. Heddi, the dog placed with handler Chantal Dickson at KZN Ezemvelo in 2014 has recently proved her worth by finding a rifle as well as two bags of high calibre ammunition at a homestead! The significance of the rifle is that rifles are being hired out to poaching gangs, so removing the rifle disrupts more than one group of poachers. Well done Heddi!

Heddi has also had to adjust considerably to her new environment – before her placement with Chantal, she worked at OR Tambo International Airport, so she has not only had to adjust to the intense heat in KZN but also to the scents and other aspects of her new bush environment. In addition, she has had to find her water and air legs – much of her work entails traveling by boat or air to remote areas. She has taken to it like a duck to water!


Our dogs are not only contributing to the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking in South Africa, but are also lending a helping hand in Zambia. Renaldo and Hitch are in Zambia spent three weeks in and around Lusaka in a trial to demonstrate to conservation authorities how successful dogs can be at detecting illegal wildlife, and also to highlight some of the welfare and operational requirements for a working dog unit. The dogs searched trucks and other vehicles at roadblocks, and had one successful bust, and also worked at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka where they were able to prove that their presence in no way interfered with the operational activities at the airport.

Our dogs are not only contributing to the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking in South Africa, but are also lending a helping hand in Zambia. Renaldo and Hitch are in Zambia spent three weeks in and around Lusaka in a trial to demonstrate to conservation authorities how successful dogs can be at detecting illegal wildlife, and also to highlight some of the welfare and operational requirements for a working dog unit. The dogs searched trucks and other vehicles at roadblocks, and had one successful bust, and also worked at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka where they were able to prove that their presence in no way interfered with the operational activities at the airport.

We have a dog food sponsor!

A HUGE thank you to Royal Canin for their very generous sponsorship of food for all the dogs!

 
Orphan Response Project:
With the rhino poaching continuing unabated, Karen Trendler has had a busy few months. She has provided assistance to numerous rhino poachings, as well as the hands-on rescue of two calves – both of whom are now being cared for in rhino orphanages where they are doing well. Thank you Karen!

The other good news is that Karen will be running the very popular and eagerly awaited training workshop entitled “A general introduction to Rhino Rescue, Response and Rehabilitation under the current poaching crisis” at the EWT head office in Modderfontein in September 2015 (dates to be confirmed). Anyone who would be interested in attending can contact Karen directly at karojay@global.co.za.
Karen’s standing in the rehabilitation community has been recognised by the African Conservation Telegraph Journal who have requested Karen contribute an article on rhino rehabilitation as their lead author in their upcoming Special Issue themed "Wildlife Rehabilitation in Africa and Influences Beyond".

 

Demand Reduction:
The EWT initiated a poster competition in Vietnam, where people were encouraged to design a poster which they felt conveyed the message to the Vietnamese people that they should not buy or use rhino horn. A panel of judges assessed the entries, and the winner and runner up received their prizes at the launch of the One More Generation campaign at the US Embassy in Hanoi.

We have also started an awareness campaign in the local Chinese community. As is evident from several recent arrests, Chinese nationals seem to be increasingly involved in smuggling of rhino horn and ivory. We have partnered with the Community Policing Forum in China Town, Cyrildene to provide regular information on species illegally possessed, traded or consumed. Cyrildene is the hub of the South African Chinese community, and virtually all Chinese in South Africa have some sort of link there. The information is sent out to all Chinese people living in SA as a WeChat message, and the take up can be monitored. So far we have sent out information on rhinos, elephants and pangolins. After the first message was sent, there were several tips from the community on illegal ivory traders, so we hope that we can expand on this in the future.


 

Community plans:
We have lots of plans to expand our community efforts this year, including our church workshops as well as a billboard campaign. One very exciting development in the community arena is that we have been provided with generous funding from the UK Prosperity Fund, which is administered by the British High Commission for a ground-breaking project to tackle social and wildlife crimes which impact on the people and wildlife in the rural community of Hluvukani, a village west of the Manyeleti Game Reserve section of the Kruger National Park. This project is a partnership between the Endangered Wildlife Trust and the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP) and aims to integrate the TVEP model of zero tolerance towards all forms of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and HIV/AIDS stigma with a similar zero tolerance to wildlife crimes. Central to all these issues is a general lack of understanding of the law and an acceptance of these crimes by the communities, plus fear of reprisals if criminal activity is reported. In addition, wildlife crime – particularly those attracting organised crime syndicates such as rhino poaching – bring unsavoury elements into communities, as they infiltrate and take advantage of local criminals, leading to an increase in criminal activity in the communities they establish themselves in.

This in turn increases the level of criminality and insecurity in the community. Lucrative crimes such as rhino poaching also bring an influx of large amounts of money at a level never before experienced, which in turn leads to a huge increase in social decay, as has been shown in the poaching villages in Mozambique. The availability of lots of illicit cash tends to result in an increase in social problems such as drinking and prostitution, which then exacerbate the very issues that the TVEP model addresses. Six hundred adults will each benefit from five days of workshops on project themes and two hundred school learners will benefit from similar, although age appropriate, classes at school. The end result is that we would like the community to unite in saying “NO” to both social and wildlife crimes, which is why the project is called “Hayi Laa!” meaning – "not here!" in Xitsonga, the predominant local language. We are very excited about this project and are looking forward to the first workshops – planned for July. Watch this space!!


 

Provinces and Private Reserves.
We continue to support various provincial and private reserves, notably in the form of fuel for Loskop Dam Nature Reserve as well as for the tactical vehicle deployed in the Hoedspruit area which has been involved in the apprehension of several poachers (details unfortunately not available for security reasons). Well done to all concerned.

One amusing incident at a roadblock saw the staff from the tactical vehicle, with the park warden and his 3-legged dog Shaya (introduced to you in previous newsletters), stop an upmarket vehicle at a roadblock. During the routine search, the boot was opened – revealing three poachers lying dead still, armed to the teeth. They were quickly overpowered and apprehended, and while waiting for the SAPS to arrive, Shaya was tasked to search the vehicle for ivory, rhino horn, arms and ammunition – all of which he is trained on. His delight at finding a concealed weapon made him literally leap for joy (3 legs and all), grab a tin of oil left in the boot, and in pure excitement, toss and catch it over and over again. The rather bemused looks on the poachers’ faces at this silly play rapidly turned to blind terror when Shaya suddenly realised there was much easier prey accessible – 3 bodies lying prone on the ground. The poachers literally begged the police to arrest them as quickly as possible and get them into the police van so they could get away from the gnashing teeth, deep growl and drool inches above their faces! Good job Shaya – I think there may be a lesson learned!

 

That’s all that is on the Rubbing Post at the moment. Please go to www.ewt.org.za for any further information or feel free to contact the EWT Rhino Project Manager Kirsty Brebner at kirstyb@ewt.org.za ; 011 372 3600

 

With grateful thanks to all our generous donors and sponsors

Afrivet, Anne Rimbault, B Schapiro, Sue Bellinger, Bidvest Magnum, Bidair, Blinda, Boksburg Camera Club, Carol Ratcliffe, Curro Christian Academy (Hillcrest), Felix Schneier Foundation, Mary and Jude, Gilfillan, GivenGain, Hans hoheisen Charitable Trust, Linda Turck, Michael Mones trust, Michelle Szezales, Neil Ginsberg, Platinum Life, Protea Hotel Kruger Gate, RELATE Trust, Rhino Hero, S Stewart, Sagewood School, SATIB TRUST, Sharon Boonzaier, Synovate  Ipsos (PTY) LT , Tomaz Florindo, Usabco, Victoria Reuvers, Waterkloof Airforce Base, Wild about life, Woolworths, Tenji Sithole


Head Office: Endangered Wildlife Trust, Private Bag X11, Modderfontein, Gauteng, 1645 (T) +27 11 3723600 (F) +27 11 6084682