Rhino team takes war against poachers to new heights

2011-05-31 00:00

THE war on rhino poaching has been taken to a new level.

For the past 13 years Lawrence Munro has been trying to get aerial surveillance to help protect KwaZulu-Natal’s rhinos, and now his enduring efforts have borne fruit.

From June 1, with Dirk Swart, a section ranger at Hluhluwe, he will pilot a sponsored Bantam light aircraft to be used to combat rhino poaching in southern African reserves.

Munro, a section ranger at iMfolozi Game Reserve, said, “Rhino poaching is nothing new, but over the years I was driven by a belief that it would get worse, given my understanding of the increased value being attached to their horns and the widening criminal syndicates driving this activity.”

He attributed the acquisition of the Bantam to the support and sponsorship of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, Save the Rhino International, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and iMfolozi honorary officers. Collectively they raised the R707 000 needed for the Bantam project.

The CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Dr Bandile Mkhize, said the costs associated with the proposal were beyond his organisation’s pockets.

“I am extremely appreciative to the sponsors that have come forward. We have recently undertaken a number of measures to help combat rhino poaching, but this aircraft can fulfil so many tasks that it will provide immense assistance all round.”

Munro said the Bantam’s primary law-enforcement activities would cover surveying suspected poaching areas, allowing for quick follow-up operations, helping section rangers get a better understanding of their areas, covering remote and inaccessible areas and providing a deterrent in “hot-spots”. — Supplied.

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