I don’t know about you, but I’ve been walking around with a real spring in my step lately. Okay, maybe that was a bad pun, but I do love the warmer weather and the feeling that people are starting to head outdoors again.
We’ve been seeing some interesting activity in the Modderfontein Reserve, which is managed by the EWT, including the first ever sighting of a Large-spotted Genet (Genetta tigrina) on our camera traps. The reserve is a fantastic pocket of conservation in the middle of an urban setting, and this is just more evidence that nature truly is always on our doorstep. September was Tourism Month in South Africa, as well as the month in which we celebrate our heritage, so I’d like to encourage you to be a tourist in your own country, celebrate our natural heritage, and make the most of these oases of nature, even if you find yourself in an urban setting. Why not let us know where you like to go to celebrate nature?

Feel free to pop me a mail at
‘Til next time




Conservation works! Yes, well planned, well executed, long term conservation action does work! Too often one hears only the sad stories, about how wildlife is being pushed to the brink. And in a world where human beings are increasingly destroying habitats, wild places and wiping out species at an unprecedented rate, this is unfortunately true. However, conservation action can and does save wildlife. In just the past few weeks the International Union for Conservation of Nature announced that the Snow Leopard is no longer an Endangered species, as a result of more than four decades of concerted and successful conservation action. In the newsletter below, you will also read about just a few of the recent successes enjoyed by the EWT as a result of our dedicated staff and partners, who work towards finding solutions that work. Despite being deeply saddened by the ongoing loss of rhino at the hands of poachers, we also know that many hundreds of injured rhino and orphaned calves remain alive today due to the passionate and dedicated commitment of the NGOs and civil society organisations that work around the clock to save them all. Many more rhino are live today than would have been otherwise, if not for conservation at work.
Conservation is not about quick fixes. It is about working tirelessly to find solutions at the level of communities, landowners, policy makers, educators, scientists, businesspeople and so on. It is human-centric and complex and requires long-term investments and multi-party engagement. As a result it is often difficult to measure and the triumphs are often celebrated as milestones and not as completions. In just the past few weeks, the EWT has been able to celebrate a series of milestones ranging from the successful release of a new pack of Wild Dogs into the Kruger National Park, to the gazetting of a national Management Plan for an Endangered frog; from the initiation of the Soutpansberg Protected Area to the discovery of a few more of South Africa’s most Endangered toad, the Amathole Toad.
I am proud to be part of the solution and as an EWT supporter, you should be too! As we celebrate South Africa’s remarkable natural heritage in September, Heritage Month, we are pleased to be part of the solution as a team that is looking after our heritage and keeping it alive for generations to come.  The EWT IS Conservation in Action, and it works. We work!  
Happy Heritage Day.




Critically Endangered vulture takes flight again

Andre Botha, Special Projects Manager

In June this year, a juvenile White-headed Vulture was found grounded on the Mjejane Private Nature Reserve, which borders onto the southern Kruger National Park. This coincided with a spate of Egyptian Goose poisonings that was taking place in the area, so we feared that the bird may have fed on a poisoned carcass or bait, and rushed to save its life. We were determined that this would be a survival story, and so we named the bird Ofentse, meaning conqueror or victorious in Sotho.

Ofentse was immediately taken to the State Veterinarians at Skukuza, where our fears were confirmed – this was a case of poisoning. Once Ofentse had been stabilised and received initial treatment, this special bird was then moved to Moholoholo by Lindy Thompson from the Hooded Vulture Project, and EWT Pel’s Fishing Owl Survey volunteer, John Davies. After extensive treatment and flight-fitness training, and one failed attempt at release, Ofentse was finally able to return to the skies in mid-August. Based on data from the GSM tracking unit that was attached before this incredible vulture was released in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Ofentse seems to be adjusting to his newfound freedom. This data shows that Ofentse travelled more than 200 km in just a few weeks, a feat that would not be possible if he was not eating well as well.

This is a great example of how rapid response and appropriate treatment of poisoning victims can make all the difference, especially with regard to Critically Endangered species such as the White-headed Vulture, where every individual that can be saved counts. This certainly applies in this instance, as we know that the Kruger itself has less than 50 breeding pairs of this beautiful bird at the moment.

If you’d like to donate to the EWT’s vulture emergency fund, and help save birds like Ofentse, click here and use the reference ‘Vulture SOS’

Thanks to John Davies and Lindy Thompson who collected the bird and liaised with Moholoholo in terms of its condition and suitability for release, and to Ralph Buij from Wageningen University for making available the tracking unit to follow the bird's movements post-release.


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Ratting on Wildlife Crime

We all know that dogs have an amazing sense of smell and that they can be trained to sniff out a variety of things from drugs to ammunitions and even cancer cells.  Dogs are often used in national ports of entry and exit to detect wildlife contraband like rhino horn and elephant ivory.  While dogs are a very effective and valuable tool in in the fight against wildlife crime, they are not always suited to working in all environments. 

Kelly Marnewick of the EWT Wildlife in Trade Programme with some of the rat trainers at APOPO in Morogoro, Tanzania.

Shipping ports provide a very challenging environment for law enforcement as they move thousands of huge containers daily (the Dar es Salaam port moves over 600,000 containers per day).  Disruptions in port operations are exceptionally costly, and inefficiencies cost some ports in the billions of US$ per annum.  Searching all these containers is logistically difficult and time consuming and in some of the best run ports in the world, only 3% of all incoming containers are scanned with x-ray. Thus a novel method needs to be found to effectively detect wildlife contraband in this challenging environment.

Giant African Pouched Rats could be the solution!  They can be trained to detect and indicate items, are fully trained in a couple of months, will work with any handler, can be trained by middle-school graduates and are relatively easy to keep and transport.  Importantly, they are small and can be easily transported in confined environments – like ports. The EWT Wildlife in Trade Programme has partnered with APOPO in Tanzania, an NGO that focuses on training Giant African Pouched Rats to detect various items of interest.  Their flagship projects train rats to detect landmines and tuberculosis and they have already detected over 13,000 landmines in Mozambique and over 9,000 new tuberculosis cases. 

The EWT and APOPO are investigating the viability of training these rats to detect wildlife contraband in shipping ports and  APOPO has been training 11 Giant Pouched Rats for the EWT, to detect pangolin scales and a hard wood called black wood or Dalbergia.  The rats have thus far performed very well and they are able to detect a target scent amongst other items that are commonly transported with the contraband like coffee, socks, electrical cables and dengu beans. The next step is to develop a system that will be suitable for the port environment, which will be done in collaboration with port and customs authorities to ensure that the system is both workable for the rats and practical.  It is also important to measure exactly how effective the rats are in detecting contraband, so we will also be chemically measuring how much pangolin and hard wood needs to be present in a container to be detected by the rats.  We believe that this is just the beginning of us discovering the many uses for these rats in the wildlife sector – imagine them searching vehicles at reserve gates!

This project is funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.


Wildlife in Trade Programme & Transnational Wildlife Crime

Over the week 4 September, the EWT Wildlife in Trade (WIT) programme attended a Counter-Transnational Organized Crime presented by Freeland. This course focuses on transnational organized crime, which is not unique to wildlife, the modalities and practicals however were specific to illegal wildlife trade. The course considered the 9 pillars of transnational organized crime which include inter alia investigation techniques, handling of evidence and interview techniques. This course was kindly funded by the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

Wildlife crime analysis training
We conducted our third two-week training course on wildlife crime analysis at the South African Wildlife College during the last two weeks of August 2017. We had five participants from a wide range of backgrounds within the wildlife sector, including North West Parks Board, The South African Police Service Endangered Species Unit and the private wildlife sector. The training forms part of a project funded by the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement with the objective to train conservation managers to use data collected by field rangers to improve the effectiveness of anti-poaching patrols.

                                                      Participants of Wildlife crime analysis training

Flagship species training course
In August the EWT WIT Programme hosted the forth Species Identification Training Intervention in Durban, which was exclusively attended by members of the South African Revenue Service. This training programme was developed to provide focused training on terrestrial, marine, reptile and bird species susceptible to and / or common in illegal wildlife trade. This training was made possible by funding received from the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust.

Particpants of the Species Identification Training Intervention



Conservation Canines Can!

The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife in Trade Programme supports anti-poaching efforts at the frontline through supplying trained highly trained Conservation Canines to assist with tracking and detecting of wildlife contraband and ammunition.  The latest additions to our crime fighting canine team are two dogs, Conservation Canines Grizzly and Alice, who have gone down to the Great Fish Nature Reserve in the Eastern Cape. Their handlers travelled for two days to get to the Southern African Wildlife College to collect these canine heroes and undergo the handover training to ensure a smooth transition. They then set upon the long journey back to the Eastern Cape where they are now all settling in, getting used to the new environment and bonding with each other before going out on the beat. They will be used in anti-poaching patrols on the reserve, to follow tracks from fence incursions and to track poachers away from poaching incidents (a skill we hope they never get to use). Great Fish is a large reserve and has rugged terrain and with the increasing threat of rhino poaching the Conservation Canines will provide valuable assistance to the reserves anti-poaching efforts.

Conservation Canine Annie who was recently place at Moholoholo Forest Reserve on the western boundary of Kruger is also doing very well.  Here she forms part of the district level security plan and works with various role-players when the need arises.  She has settled in well: she has started working at night in the field and has even done her first couple of helicopter trips.  This is a difficult environment for a dog as helicopters are noisy, windy and they have to get in and out of them in all sorts of situations, but helicopters are vital response tools to a poaching incident.  Imagine you can get off the ground, get a visual of the poacher, then drop your dog and handler teams off in close proximity to track the poachers? Annie was initially a little unsure of this whole flying thing to start with, but soon settled in and is now taking it all in her stride. In her down time she likes to rest on the couch and play with her handler’s child. 

Pic: Conservation Canine Annie with her handler Colin Patrick © Becky Patrick

Conservation Canine Vito is shining at Kapama Game Reserve and is a real ambassador of the EWT Conservation Programme.  A few weeks ago she found some poacher’s ammunition in long grass after an incursion was detected on a neighbouring property.  She worked in collaboration with the local security community and together they managed to prevent a poaching incident that evening. 

Conservation Canines can form a vital part of a well-managed security strategy.  They require a large amount of time and energy in their training but they pay dividends in the impact of their work. The EWT is privileged to partner with a number of reserves and dedicated handlers who are passionate about their dogs and making a difference in conservation.

This project is supported by the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust.



Biodiversity for better business

Shelley Lizzio, National Biodiversity and Business Network Manager

Natural resources are essential for human survival, and in almost all cases, essential for the success of businesses too. Woolworths South Africa is a good example of a South African business that understands this important connection. Woolworths recognises that, through its supply chain, it both depends, and has an impact on natural resources. These natural resources include, amongst other things, clean water, raw materials, soils, and biodiversity - from the plants that provide us with fruit and vegetables to the bees that pollinate them. To manage the associated business risks and opportunities, Woolworths works with many of its suppliers to better manage their biodiversity impacts and dependencies. For example, together with farmers, Woolworths is pioneering a new approach to growing food sustainably and in harmony with biodiversity. They aim to enable South Africa’s farms to provide enough food for future generations without compromising quality, adding to the cost or having detrimental impacts on biodiversity. This is Woolworths’ “Farming for the Future” approach, which is reducing the use of added nutrients, optimising production and limiting waste. All of this whilst saving the company money and building a resilient supply chain.  

More and more forward thinking organisations are realising that, in order to remain competitive, they need to ensure the resilience of the natural resources on which the profitability of their businesses rely. By tackling the problems associated with their impacts and dependencies on natural resources proactively, they are able to better manage these, and are in fact able to identify financial opportunities that come with the careful management of natural resources.

To learn more about these opportunities and possible solutions, join us on 24 and 25 October 2017 at the third annual National Biodiversity and Business Indaba, which is taking place at Hatch’s head office in Johannesburg. This will be your opportunity to engage with prominent representatives of business, government and the NGO sector as they tackle the difficult questions and brainstorm the necessary solutions to one of our world’s most pressing problems. The theme for this year’s Indaba is ‘Biodiversity for Better Business’. We aim to provide delegates with practical insights into how their business can identify and act on risks and opportunities in the rapidly evolving field of biodiversity and business.

The Indaba provides an opportunity for large, medium and small businesses to take a proactive step towards better understanding the risks and opportunities that biodiversity presents to their bottom line, and learning about how best to respond to remain competitive in our fast-changing world.

The National Biodiversity and Business Network (NBBN) was established by the EWT, in collaboration with founding partners, including the Department of Environmental Affairs, Nedbank Limited, Hatch, De Beers, Transnet, Pam Golding Properties and Pick n Pay. Woolworths and Eskom have since also joined us as partners.

The NBBN engages with various business sectors and stakeholders to assist business to better integrate biodiversity into their business activities and to promote a national biodiversity and business agenda. The NBBN facilitates the development and provision of information, tools, resources, benchmarks, pilot-studies and strategic support to businesses looking to integrate biodiversity issues into their business. The NBBN also organises events, forums, training sessions and an annual conference.

The NBBN wishes to thank the sponsors of the Indaba, including the Department of Environmental Affairs, Hatch, De Beers, Eskom and Woolworths.




 For more information, contact



Freshwater, Frogs, Family – Country Club Johannesburg Talk
Date: 3 October 2017
Speaker: Dr Jeanne Tarrant

EWTea and Talk, Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
Easter Eegg owls: Giving a hoot about the conservation of the African Grass Owl in a human-transformed landscape –
Date: 20 October 2017
Speaker: Matt Pretorius and Rebo Rachuene




Mt Vinson – the Seventh Summit, to save our rhinos

John Black, Director, Trappers

What does the highest mountain, on the coldest, most remote continent have to do with rhino conservation? Let’s begin at the beginning.

What started as a casual conversation around the campfire at a Boy Scout training camp in 1998, turned into the “Three Peaks Expedition” to climb the three highest peaks in Africa in a month, back in 2000. That in turn started what has now been almost 20 years of climbing mountains as frequently as time, money, career and, later, family allowed.

Along the way, there have been some hairy moments, some downright frightening moments, a second attempt at Aconcagua to pull it off, and unrest in Tibet that postponed our Everest plans by a year. Over the years, I have had the privilege to climb all of the other Sseven Ssummits, and possibly more importantly, a number of “non-seven”, and to share these experiences with great friends. The last of the seven was Denali back in 2011, with Mt Everest preceding it in 2009. Some of the other peaks included Alpamayo, Ama Dablam, Lobuche, Quitaraju, and Mt Kenya.

Almost all of our trips have been non-commercial, private trips. However, the only way to climb Vinson is via an operator, due to the extreme remoteness and the resultant monopoly on logistics. These two factors also mean that it is an unjustifiably expensive trip, but one that I have been determined to do, and to finish what I started dreaming about in my teens.

Through very supportive sponsors, saving and personal sacrifice, I have been able to cover the costs. The trip is paid, flights booked and my North Face duffels are waiting to be packed. I have had a long relationship with the EWT and rhino conservation, fundraising for these causes in both my professional and personal capacity. I intend to continue with this, and will be using the hopeful completion of the Seven Summits as an opportunity to raise funds for the EWT. 

In 2011, in my professional capacity, we raised R250,000 for rhino conservation in the Kruger National Park, and in 2013 my wife and I raised almost a R100,000 for rhino conservation when I ran the London Marathon in a rhino suit. But neither of those efforts compare to what I am attempting later this year.

If my fundraising target of R250,000 is achieved, I will attempt the highest mountain, on the coldest continent, wearing a rhino suit, similar to the one I wore when I ran the London Marathon to raise funds. Any donations are welcome and can be made at

Alternatively, donations can be made directly to the EWT using the reference RhinoInAntarctica. For more information, please contact me on 082 412 7614 or

Conservation in action with Flight Centre

Flight Centre Foundation believes that through a hands-on approach, the organisation can give back to the communities in which it works, sustainably. This foundation gives every Flight Centre employee the opportunity to get involved, though donations and volunteering.

The Flight Centre team certainly took a hands-on approach when they joined the EWT for a day of intensive alien plant clearing in the Modderfontein Reserve on 25 August! Together, we equipped ourselves with pangas and saws, filled up our water bottles, and took a walk to one of the many bird hides on the reserve. Our mission? To clear as many Syringa trees (Melia azedarach) from the bird hide area as possible. The Syringa is an invasive species that competes with and replaces indigenous species, with potentially serious consequences for biodiversity.

The competitive spirit was raised as we split into two groups, and tackled the troublesome trees. After two hours of hard work (and perspiration), the team cleared a substantial numbers of Syringas, making a lasting impact in the area.

Thank you to Flight Centre for their involvement on the day and for their support of the EWT.


Canopy Tours

Canopy Tours is a South African adventure tourism company that spends most of its time at the top of giant trees, or hanging out on the side of mountain cliffs, or ziplining between the two! We have seven treetop Canopy Tour sites around southern Africa and have been taking people through these previously inaccessible natural environments for 17 years. All our Canopy Tours have an extremely small footprint and are custom designed around each particular platform location or habitat. We operate in pristine areas such as national parks, world heritage sites, protected areas and forest reserves, and believe in education through adventure.

A Canopy Tour consists of a series of elevated platforms that are joined by long zipline slides, offering guests a two-hour adventure through spectacular untouched wilderness areas! Canopy Tours are safe for almost all ages (we recommend 5 to 75) and small groups are escorted through the canopy level of the forest by at least two trained guides per group. Our guides are previously unemployed members of the surrounding rural communities who receive the necessary skills training to offer a safe and informative adventure experience for guests. Canopy Tours operate every hour of every day, and are great fun for corporate groups, nature lovers, families, and thrill seekers. There is one near you! Visit for more info.

Canopy Tours supports the EWT as our business is all about taking people away from their urban life and up into pristine nature areas where they can encounter wild species and the joy of nature from a completely new perspective. We rely on the good work of the EWT to help educate people and conserve these places and the wildlife that lives there. We hope the Canopy Tour experience we offer, alongside our affiliation with the EWT, leads more people to become more responsible about conservation.

Avian Leisure

Avian Leisure specialises in tailor-made private safaris and birding tours in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia, as well as botany tours, general nature tours and photographic tours. They cater for small groups wanting self-drive or guided tours. Their birding tours are run at your desired pace; intensive trips aim to cover as many habitat types as possible within the given time frame and you expect 500 bird species in a three week guided trip. Their tailor-made wildlife safaris take you to the best bushveld areas in search of the 'Big Five'.

Avian Leisure is a corporate supporter of the EWT, believing that our work aligns closely with what they care about.

Become a member of the EWT and help us to save our heritage:

You can also help us to spread our message and the umbrella of our work by encouraging friends, family and colleagues to become members.....OPEN MEMBERSHIP FORM or contact Joel Thosago on





Physical Address: Building K2, Ardeer Road, Pinelands Office Park,
Modderfontein 1609, Gauteng, South Africa,
Postal Address: Private Bag X 11, Modderfontein 1645, Gauteng, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 11 372 3600 Fax: +27 (0) 11 608 4682 NPO Number: 015-502
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