Rhino Programme | WWF South Africa

	© Robbie Prehn


In response to the dramatic increase in cases of rhino poaching, WWF-SA has launched a national programme to strengthen rhino conservation efforts. We believe that there is no single solution to the poaching crisis in and a range of related activities are needed right along the illegal trade chain.
Rhino-related matters are complex; there is no quick-fix to the current rate at which our rhino are being poached. For this reason, WWF recognises the need to apply a long-term plan and work in a multifaceted way to address rhino poaching systematically. The National Rhino Programme has developed a five-point strategic framework to address the issue and combat the threats to rhinos (click the headings for more info):

1. Boosting rhino numbers

We work to identify safe rhino sites and move 15 to 20 black rhinos to a new area so that they have ample space to breed and thrive. Over a decade, ten new rhino populations have been established by translocating more than 160 rhinos. Rhinos are slow breeders yet over 60 calves have already been born as a result of this Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP).

As well as making more land available for black rhinos, we have also supported BRREP reserves with buying much needed equipment for monitoring and security. This includes ankle collars, immobilisation operations and helicopters hours during veterinary treatments as well as field equipment for rangers, such as boots, binoculars, radios, cameras, fuel and batteries. This equipment allows rangers and rhino monitors to face their daily challenges with a degree of relative comfort and safety. Rhino monitors, on a daily basis, track and locate black rhinos in their reserves, making note of location and status, in order to record numbers and geographical spread. This vital information is passed to conservation agencies to ensure timely and relevant data is available on rhino numbers.

2. Benefitting communities around rhino reserves

Acknowledging the importance of local communities living near key rhino populations has led to a major partnership with the Southern African Wildlife College. We work with the College and their CBNRM Economics and Governance unit to fund and support their work within rural communities who live near to game reserves. Under our RISE (Rural Initiative for a Sustainable Environment) approach we empower people to be able to manage and benefit from natural resources. We also sponsor the WWF Rhino Scholarship for a few students to study at the college who then take these skills into the communities where they work.

The “Learning by Doing” method implemented by the Unit means that students are taken to selected pilot sites around the country, so that learning is done within communities so that students are exposed to the challenges on the ground.

Catalytic work is underway at a community project site in Mozambique, located around a private game reserve. A big win from last year meant that this community received funds from the Government, amounting to 20% of revenue, making a valuable and much needed contribution to households in the area.

A group of scouts, employed by the community, are proving invaluable in reducing incidents of rhino poaching in the areas. Their main role as the eyes and ears of the community means they are aware of movements within and between villages and they are aware of any strange activities going on.

3. Breaking illegal trade networks

WWF projects aim to support enhanced communication and collaboration between law enforcement agencies to achieve a greater impact by arresting and prosecuting those higher up the illegal trade chain.

To this end, we focus on getting active support from the South African government law enforcement agencies. We also work to strengthen the skills and awareness of investigators in the South African Police Service and those within the judicial system, mainly magistrates as well as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The Rhino Crime Toolkit will assist these investigators in presenting accurate cases in court, to secure maximum sentences and penalties for those found guilty of rhino-related crimes.

4. Building bridges and working together across borders

We work very closely with South Africa’s neighbouring countries, especially Mozambique which is a key transit country for trafficking horn from South Africa and particularly Kruger National Park. We worked with the WWF country office in Mozambique in 2014 to develop a national strategy for combating the illegal wildlife trade, mainly focused around illegal killing of rhinos and elephants and illegal trafficking of rhino horn and elephant ivory. This strategy called for both government advocacy and capacity development in the country and since its development, strategic projects and needs that were identified have been designed with colleagues in WWF Mozambique. We’ve enabled the employment of an Illegal Wildlife Trade Senior Policy Office in the WWF-Mozambique office which implements projects and assists with training of local law officials in how to apply conservation law.

5. Bursting the bubble of demand in Asia

The huge demand for rhino horn, as a detoxicant and a status symbol, plays the number one role in the poaching of rhino in this country. Despite the lack of any scientific data to prove these assertions, the demand remains strong and is growing.

Based on research into the typical rhino horn ‘consumer’, WWF together with TRAFFIC – the wildlife trade monitoring network – launched an innovative and targeted behaviour campaign in Vietnam. The Chi campaign was aimed at wealthy, middle-aged businessmen and was centred around powerful imagery which plays on the message that one’s power or life force (Chi) comes from within and not from a piece of horn. This behaviour change campaign, unlike conventional conservation messaging focusing on the plight of endangered animals, this messaging addresses the emotions behind rhino horn consumption. The link between wealth, health, relationships and rhino horn is tacitly discarded and seen as untrue

The campaign was formally launched on World Rhino Day in 2014 in Viet Nam and campaign activities are ongoing there. These activities include an online presence as well as billboard and print advertisements. Business lunches and face-to-face engagements at high end restaurants and cafes also take place.

The WWF Global Network is also working to address rhino challenges and improve the conservation of the species on other African rhino range states through its African Rhino Programme

Give our rhinos a lift!

	© WWF / Green Renaissance


	© WWF
    The WWF Wildlife Crime Scorecard report selects 23 range, transit and consumer countries from Asia and Africa facing the highest levels of illegal trade in elephant ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts.