To date, the overwhelming majority of efforts to stop the rhino poaching crisis have focused on South Africa, despite the threat emanating from Mozambique. IAPF recognized the critical need to bolster efforts on the Mozambique side of the Kruger border, and formed a partnership with WESSA (Lowveld) to jointly support Limpopo National Park in collaboration with the Peace Parks Foundation. This includes the provision and implementation of anti-poaching equipment and systems, upgrades to communications equipment, GIS mapping capabilities and specialist technology.
Limpopo National Park is 1.12 million hectares (2.7 mil acres) and makes up one of the largest components of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. The GLTP links Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa, Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and LNP in Mozambique. Whilst the GLTP is one of the greatest wilderness areas on earth, it is not without challenges.
Since 2008, South Africa has been hit increasingly hard by poachers, suffering a 7,700% increase in the number of rhino killed illegally.
KNP is home to more than 40% of the world’s remaining 22,000 wild rhino. Of the 1004 rhino killed in South Africa in 2013, 60% were poached in KNP and this figure remains consistent in 2014. SANParks Ken Maggs stated, “80% of rhino poachers entering KNP are doing so from Mozambique.” This reinforces the real need for more work to be done in Mozambique, not just South Africa, and particularly in Limpopo National Park, which shares its 200km western boundary with KNP.
The LNP protection unit improved their levels of success during 2013 with the arrest of 43 poachers (up from 14 in 2012), and the confiscation of 21 rifles (up from 15 in 2012).
Following on the protection turn around strategy implemented in 2012, these successes are attributed to a number of factors including the establishment of performance targets and results based incentive schemes, improved disciplinary measures and an improved operating environment. The latter factor included the upgrade of living conditions and availability of resources such as rifles, vehicles and patrol equipment.
The Park is realizing further success over 2014 following the deployment of a newly established 30 man field ranger unit, whose activities are focused in the “Intensive Protection Zone” along LNP’s western boundary with Kruger. The unit continues to undertake coordinated activities with KNP forces as part of “Operation Capricorn”, focused on dealing with the greatest threat to rhinos and elephants in the region.
Whilst these are encouraging signs, the number of rhino and elephant carcasses continues to increase, as LNP operates with limited resources.
The IAPF is committed to fighting the rhino poaching crisis by supporting the rangers who risk their lives daily protecting our heritage.
IAPF project goal:
To work with existing stakeholders in support of a long-term anti-poaching strategy for Limpopo National Park, which bolsters regional efforts in safeguarding biodiversity.
- OBJECTIVE 1: Source and implement field equipment to support anti-poaching operations;
- OBJECTIVE 2: Upgrade living conditions and incentives for rangers at LNP;
- OBJECTIVE 3: Identify, procure and implement specialist technology and systems for wildlife protection;
- OBJECTIVE 4: Upgrade the communications capabilities, both internally and externally;
- OBJECTIVE 5: Drive a GIS mapping system that identifies, plots and predicts patterns relevant to supporting the Park Management Plan.
As a Non-Profit Organization, the IAPF is reliant on the financial support of individuals, corporations and organizations who understand the urgent need to back determined efforts at the frontlines of the wildlife wars. Please contact RSA@iapf.org if you can be a part of the solution.
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