The Greater Lebombo Conservancy (GLC), an area of 2,483 km2, is currently the most critical piece of land on the planet for rhino conservation. It is all that stands between the worlds highest concentrations of rhino and the world’s highest concentration of rhino poaching syndicates. Despite this, it has remained an almost forgotten anomaly in South Africa’s top-level conservation planning for the past 7 years, and continues to act as a highway for rhino poachers entering KNP. The GLC is where our sights must be set. Kruger National Park, South Africa, is home to up to 40% of the worlds remaining rhino. 90% of these rhino reside in the bottom half of KNP below the Ollifants River, with 60% of these rhino residing in the southernmost quarter of the Park. In 2014 KNP accounted for 68% of South Africa’s 1215 poached rhino. Major General Johan Jooste, head of Special Operations in KNP, asserts that around 80% of the poachers responsible for this carnage come from Mozambique or exit back into Mozambique. The Greater Lebomobo Conservancy is the stretch of land they must cross to reach the killing fields of KNP. The Greater Lebombo Conservancy is key to the protection of up to 40% of the world’s remaining rhino. Working with key stakeholders over an 18-month period, the IAPF collabourated and coordinated efforts to produce a draft Strategy Plan for Anti-Poaching for the region, and has begun to implement these steps with local partners in an effort to stop the haemorrhaging. This project aims to help safeguard up to 10,000 rhino, making its success a critical requirement for the future of the species. It also provides an opportunity to help stop poachers meeting a gloomy fate whilst conducting these operations, where nearly 400 have died already in recent years, and as many sit in jail. To facilitate this project, Mozambique’s National Agency for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collabourate on biodiversity protection across key areas targeting by poachers.
The GLC by numbers:
- 35: The average percentage that rhino poaching incidents have increased over the last 5 years;
- 25: The approximate percentage of the worlds remaining rhino population that Sabie Game Park (one of the GLC reserves) alone provides a buffer to;
- 12-24: The lifespan in hours of an unprotected rhino wandering across the border into Mozambique;
- 400: The approximate number of poachers killed in the area since the war flared up in 2008;
- 80: The percentage of Kruger’s rhino poachers that come from Mozambique.
- 400,000: The amount in USD required to purchase a game changing helicopter and crew for the area.
- 75,000: The Vietnam street value in USD of rhino horn per kilogram.
- 400: The approximate number of rhino focused organisations supporting conservation in South Africa.
- 3: The number of NGO’s supporting the wilderness areas in Mozambique which form the buffer between Kruger National Park, and communities in which the majority of rhino poachers originate.Rhino like this can expect to live less than 24hrs if they cross into unprotected areas of the GLC.The IAPF aims to change that drastically A .375 hunting rifle with home made silencer. This one,seized in Mozambique recently is a typical tool of the trade for poachers.
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