Rhino donor database welcomed

2013-10-16 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG-BASED conservation group Project Rhino KZN has welcomed a decision by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to register all organisations involved in raising awareness and funds for the fight against rhino poaching.

Sheelagh Antrobus, spokesperson for Project Rhino KZN, said the organisation had been involved in a meeting with the DEA in July this year to discuss the issue, which centred around concerns that money raised by non-governmental and non-profit organisations was not getting to where it was needed.

“When they [the DEA] Googled ‘Save the Rhino’, apparently over 250 NGOs popped up in South Africa and over 1 000 internationally,” Antrobus said.

“International donors and big corporates were also contacting the DEA to ask who they recommended and they simply didn’t know.”

It is hoped that the new national database will help the government to see who is doing what in the field of fundraising, conservation and awareness.

In a statement on its website, South African National Parks (SANParks) said that to date more than 100 applications had been received by the government from NGOs, NPOs and individuals seeking to register projects.

Antrobus said Project Rhino KZN had already signed up and she believed all the NGOs they worked with, including Wildlands Conservation Trust, Wessa, the World Wide Fund for Nature, the African Conservation Trust and others, had done so too.

“The initiative is one of numerous steps being taken to rid the sector of illegitimate and ill-intended operations and ensure greater legitimacy of organisations and individuals involved in projects aimed at addressing the scourge of rhino poaching in South Africa,” the government statement said.

Project Rhino certainly hopes that the register will combat fraud and give donors the confidence they need to know that their money is going to a genuine project.

“We have to work as a team against the poachers and to assist the government and private owners. And we have to know that the money is going to projects that have the support of these players,” Antrobus said.

In addition to establishing the register and co-ordinating anti-poaching initiatives, the DEA is also planning to establish a national rhino fund in consultation with the National Treasury and other roleplayers.

The fund will ensure that money is distributed to state and privately owned rhino anti-poaching initiatives, including conservation, safety and security, skills development and research.

So far this year, 746 rhino have been poached in SA. There have been 228 people arrested for rhino-related offences.

South Africans are encouraged to report incidents of poaching and tip-offs, anonymously to 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line at 32211.

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