29 January 2018
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife manages a unique geographic composition of multiple smaller game reserves throughout the KwaZulu-Natal province that host key state- rhino populations. Within the current climate of wildlife crime, protecting rhino and other key species throughout these dispersed conservation areas, necessitates advanced levels of coordination and complex integration of anti-poaching activities. Furthermore, this fragmented conservation landscape demands the bringing together of numerous role-players that include Ezemvelo’s own ranger forces and anti-poaching teams, the SAPS, other provincial and national security units, and private rhino owners.
Such synchronisation is also critical to the success of Ezemvelo’s protection zone strategy implemented with the support of Peace Parks Foundation. This approach involves the establishment of Intensive Protection Zones (IPZs) to lock down core black and white rhino populations at HiP and Mkhuze Game Reserves, as well as a Joint Protection Zone (JPZ) incorporating all other rhino reserves including private reserves.
Integrated data for tactical planning and response
The centrally located nerve center performs a key function in facilitating collaboration in the forecasting and evaluation of rhino poaching risks in the province, based on data gathered from technology systems and counter-poaching forces on the ground. These risks can then be flagged for action by local, provincial and/or national law enforcement entities. Rapid data analysis will assist with the formulation of actionable intelligence to be passed on for intervention to the National Rhino 8 SAPS operations centre based at Hluhluwe Air Field, or to other law-enforcement, judicial and/or wildlife crime investigation teams.
In addition to improving response time and accuracy, the coordinated systems also enable Ezemvelo to keep track of the various teams – ranger forces, dog teams, aerial support, and external law-enforcement units – who play a critical role in day-to-day anti-poaching efforts. This enhances joint operations, prevents blue on blue (‘friendly’) contact, and improves the safety of those on the ground.
With the nerve centre now officially launched, the upcoming months will see additional capacity being deployed to ensure efficiency and sustainability, and ensure that new systems are integrated into daily anti-poaching operations going forward.
Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation, stated: “There is no silver bullet solution to conquering rhino poaching challenges. It is only through multi-faceted and cross-industry collaboration that rhino poaching can eventually be stabilised. We have seen this approach leverage success in other key rhino management areas in South Africa, and we are optimisic that Ezemvelo’s new focused and integrated approach to combatting wildlife crime will see rhino poaching numbers decline over the coming months.”
The opening of the nerve centre was attended by the US Consul General to Durban, Sherry Zalika Sykes, who formally announced a significant grant from the US State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotic and Law Enforcement Affairs awarded to Ezemvelo through Peace Parks Foundation. Specifically, the financial support is earmarked for the establishment of Intensive and Joint Protection Zones; further development of Provincial Operations, Planning and Information Coordination; and support to a Risk and Threat Management Unit. This grant forms one part of the $2.6 million the US Government awarded through the State Department in 2017, and $7.4 million since 2014, to combat poaching and wildlife trafficking across South Africa.
Speaking at the event, Ms Sykes said, “South Africa is making tremendous progress in developing new strategic approaches to conserve wildlife and combat the transnational syndicates that threaten iconic species such as rhinos, elephants, and abalone. And I am proud to say that the United States has and will continue to work with you in this fight. Working in partnership on combating wildlife trafficking and countering poaching will help us conserve incredibly diverse wildlife species, promote economic development, and combat the multi-billion-dollar illicit wildlife trade within our borders, across our borders, and globally.”
Acting CEO for Ezemvelo, Mr Bheki Khoza expressed his gratitude, “Ezemvelo has a long history with Peace Parks Foundation and the US State Department, who have both provided vital financial and operational support to rhino protection strategies over the past decade. We wish to express our gratitude to them, and to all our other donors and partners, for their continued support to our conservation efforts.”
The development of the Smart Park entails the deployment of a collection of integrated technology solutions that together create a connected environment to enable seamless collection and consolidation of real-time data from various devices and sensors throughout the Park. Intelligent surveillance systems, image recognition cameras, digital radios, handheld data collection devices, animal tracking sensors, gate and access control systems, vehicle and aerial response tracking systems – these are but a few of the data sources that will be integrated into the unified technology ecosystem. The establishment of the Smart Park will also include the provision of a Low Power Wide Area Network (LoRaWaN) with world class internet connectivity for the integration of smart sensors and the speedy transmission of data. The purpose of the integrated system is to provide park managers and rangers with improved insight into everything that is happening across HiP’s vast conservation space, and to respond in a timely manner with the right resources. It will also allow for mapping rhino movement and hotspots, and the subsequent planning and execution of more successful protection tactics.
The Rhino Protection Programme (RPP)
The RPP is a multi-faceted programme that focuses on developing and implementing practical, well-considered methods through which to combat the poaching of rhino, as well as disrupt the supply, demand and illegal trafficking of rhino horn. The RPP is implemented under the auspices of the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in partnership with South African National Parks (SANParks), Ezemvelo and Peace Parks Foundation, and is made possible through funding from the Dutch and Swedish postcode lotteries as well as other private donors.
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 nread 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 Hread 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 thrread 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 theread more
28 June 2017Dynamic alliance established to bolster rhino anti-poaching efforts
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 wiread 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 horread 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 collectiread more