Dynamic alliance established to bolster rhino anti-poaching efforts

28 June 2017

John Braithwaite (Chairperson: GKEPF); Theresa Sowry (CEO: SAWC); Major-General (Retired) Johan Jooste (Head: Special       Projects, SANParks);  Otch Otto (Director of Operations: GKEPF); Werner Myburgh (CEO: PPF); Joshua Ngomane (MTPA   Cluster Manager: Ehlanzeni North)
John Braithwaite (Chairperson: GKEPF); Theresa Sowry (CEO: SAWC); Major-General (Retired) Johan Jooste (Head: Special Projects, SANParks);  Otch Otto (Director of Operations: GKEPF); Werner Myburgh (CEO: PPF); Joshua Ngomane (MTPA Cluster Manager: Ehlanzeni North)
On the western boundary of Kruger National Park (KNP), private and community-owned game reserves - represented as the Greater Kruger Environmental Protection Foundation (GKEPF) - have joined forces with conservation agencies, non-profit organisations and security service providers to bolster conservation management and realise increased environmental asset protection through integrated anti-poaching and security strategies across the region.
Click on map to open
Click on map to open
This strong public-private partnership, which includes cooperation with South African National Parks (SANParks), the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Authority (MTPA), Peace Parks Foundation (PPF), and the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC), aims to put an end to the often fragmented approach taken to protect wildlife species under threat. The activities of GKEPF and its partners also assist in securing the private and community-owned game reserves as part of a Joint Protection Zone (JPZ) - the area demarcated as a cooperation-based conservation management block with KNP in the centre and including all private and community owned reserves on KNP’s borders.

‘It is vital that we develop the capabilities that exist within the region for the protection of all species by enhancing the effectiveness of management authorities and resources,’ said the GKEPF Director of Operations, Colonel (Retired) Otch Otto. ‘We are actively trying to ensure collaborative conservation management and enhanced security as a result of the effective exchange of information, sharing of equipment and advanced technologies, skills, training, experience and moral support.’

Monday, 26 June 2017 marked the official declaration of these partnerships with the opening of the GKEPF Command and Communications Centre (ComCen), situated at SAWC and forming the central point of coordination of activities as managed by GKEPF. With financial support from PPF, the ComCen has been staffed and equipped with technology, communications and data management systems, to allow for optimal execution of monitoring and response, as well as administrative and logistical functions. Funded by generous donors of SAWC, a hangar was erected as part of the ComCen, enabling rapid deployment of aerial assets within the Greater Kruger Environmental Protection Alliance (GKEPA) support area.
As part of efforts to truly invigorate joint anti-poaching and asset management efforts, PPF funded the implementation of an extended digital communication system across the GKEPA operational area. This system, which was initially only operational within the Intensive Protection Zone of KNP, has now been extended to include the GKEPA reserves and integrated into the ComCen system – allowing for secure and seamless communication between security personnel in KNP and the private and community-owned game reserves on both sides of KNP’s boundary.

While exerting primary efforts on establishing capabilities and strategies that would improve the environmental management capacity of all GKEPA partners, the initial phase of the project also saw specific focus being placed on improving security infrastructure at Manyeleti Game Reserve. Manyeleti – positioned at a critical location within the JPZ – was being targeted by poaching syndicates as an access route through which to enter KNP and other reserves. PPF provided funding to upgrade a vulnerable stretch of the Manyeleti boundary fence, and installed an electro-pulse monitoring system, which feeds data directly back to the GKEPA ComCen.
The ComCen forms the central point of coordination for collaborative environmental management and integrated anti-poaching strategies across the region.
The ComCen forms the central point of coordination for collaborative environmental management and integrated anti-poaching strategies across the region.
Says Werner Myburgh, CEO of PPF: ‘As we move forward step by step in our collective effort to combat wildlife crime, the forging of partnerships and the use of modern technologies are imperative so as to stay one step ahead of poaching syndicates. In this instance, secure digital communications and smart monitoring systems with rapid response capabilities were vitally important for the development of effective protection strategies. The initial results are encouraging and within the first year that the ComCen has been operational, there has already been a 50% reduction in rhino poached in this particular region. No doubt these collective and structured efforts are contributing to this progress.’

Cooperative partnerships are an essential part of the GKEPA strategy, and with the ComCen and aerial capability perfectly located at the SAWC, it also exposes upcoming conservationists to best practice through applied learning to bolster species protection and counter rhino poaching. ‘With the support of these alliances we are able to further facilitate education, training and skills development opportunities and harness available resources which, with the support of our neighbouring communities, will help improve security within the GKEPA area where the college is based’, added SAWC CEO, Theresa Sowry.

With the capability provided and the joint assets created, GKEPF is also able to respond to community support programmes, medical emergencies, and support government agency initiatives such as the National Counter Poaching Strategy ‘Operation Rhino7’, which would otherwise not be possible.

21 August 2018Designing a sustainable future

At the World Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expo (WIEE) held in Shanghai, students in China are utilising marketing design to address critical social matters of concern, such as the conservation of n

 read more

19 March 2018Vietnamese youth appeal to their peers to stop using rhino horn

Vietnamese youth from Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) are appealing to their friends, family and peers to stop using rhino horn. In July 2017, the lives of 11 students from various international schools in H

 read more

29 January 2018A new integrated anti-poaching approach for Ezemvelo rhino reserves

On 24 January 2018, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife officially opened a new central anti-poaching command and control, or so-called ‘nerve centre’, in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi (HiP) Park. The nerve centre forms th

 read more

27 November 2017Protecting the 'birthplace of rhino'

The birthplace of rhino” – this is the name often given to Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park (HiP) in KwaZulu-Natal where the southern white rhino was saved from the brink of extinction half a century ago.

 read more

27 July 2017'We can make a difference,' says Vietnamese Youth

The continued senseless killing of African rhino for their horn, is driven by the demand for horn in primary consumer countries in Asia, such as Vietnam and China. More than 90% of horn goes to or thr

 read more

6 July 2017Lions poisoned for bone trade

[Maputo, 5 July 2017] On 3 July 2017 the tracks of three poachers were detected in the Intensive Protection Zone of Limpopo National Park, Mozambique. These were followed and it became clear that the

 read more

12 May 2017More than 10 000 Vietnamese businesspeople reached

Quang Ninh, Viet Nam, May 2017—Since June 2015, more than 10 000 businesspeople across 45 Vietnamese cities and provinces have gained the tools and methods to adopt corporate social responsibility (

 read more

11 April 2017In order to stop the killing, we have to stop the demand.

The demand for rhino horn in Asian countries remains one of the main driving forces behind the escalation in poaching of rhinos in Southern Africa, with more than 80% of illegally trafficked rhino hor

 read more

16 March 2017No more ‘hiding in the dark’ for poachers entering Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park, South Africa – A group of three poachers move silently through the bushveld, hidden from the naked eye by the darkness of night. Armed with a rifle and carrying a grim collecti

 read more