Saving the Rhino | WWF South Africa

Saving the Rhino

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 :
  1. Continuing the Black Rhino Range Expansion Programme (BRREP) to continue to boost black rhino population growth rates by relocating founder populations to additional areas that are committed to protecting them;
  2. Working with people and communities who border wildlife and protected areas to create linkages and benefits;
  3. Supporting law enforcement activities with forensic, judicial and information management tools;
  4. Recognising that illegal wildlife trade is an international problem that cannot be solved within our borders; it requires profound cooperation between ourselves and other key countries in the illicit supply chain, notably Mozambique and Vietnam;
  5. Working on understanding the international rhino horn market, such who are the consumers in key rhino horn markets, such as Vietnam; and then using this information to develop targeted behaviour changing campaigns.

Learning by Doing: Catalysing Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) as an approach to benefit wildlife conservation in South Africa

In the urgent race to combat poaching rates and build sustainable rhino populations, working with communities on the front line – those who live close to rhinos – has been identified as an essential, yet often underestimated, component in tackling the challenge and a crucial point within the WWF five point strategic framework.
There is no single solution to the current threats to our rhino populations, which is why WWF works strategically to combat the issue on numerous fronts - key leverage points - which hold potential for tangible change. WWF believes Community Based Natural Resource Management can be one of these levers.

Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) is a proven conservation tool for southern Africa, which links wildlife with improving livelihoods to allow both people and nature to benefit and reach shared goals. Over the last twenty years, WWF Namibia and partners have shown this to great effect through the successful "Living in a Finite Environment" (LIFE) project.  LIFE provides assistance to comprehensive CBNRM programmes, through the development of sustainable management and governance institutions in community conservancies.

It is against this backdrop that WWF South Africa and partners launched RISE, the Rural Initiative for a Sustainable Environment in South Africa. RISE is a practical community-based approach to supporting wildlife conservation and our rhinos. Funded by the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, RISE is based at the new CBNRM Economics and Governance Unit at the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) located within Kruger National Park.

RISE works to empower rural communities and allow them to benefit from protected areas by developing management, governance and financial skills.  In carefully selected project sites, the RISE team identify what benefits are available from protected areas and create committees in the surrounding communities. Following this, they also assist with management tools and skills including more practical outputs such as creating legal structures which allow income to be received by everyone.  Assistance is also provided to ensure that natural resources are sustainably managed for long-term provision to access of benefits. 

Over time, communities realise long-term sustainable benefits, while continuing to be custodians of rhinos for future generations.  The critical skills required to undertake and train others in this work are scarce in South Africa at present, and RISE is also developing new CBNRM leaders who will be trained on the job. 

Historically throughout Africa, people and animals have been in competition for land and resources. Yet wildlife may offer the most profitable land use with great economic development potential when managed sustainably and when effective governance structures are in place.  RISE is already being implemented in pilot sites in KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique, both of which are close to key rhino populations. Mozambique is also a key transit country for the trafficking of horn.
By identifying the mutual benefits available from wildlife, promoting responsible land-use and giving communities ownership – including decision making powers and equitable access to benefits – RISE can support both people and the environment in South Africa as well.

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How the Green Trust is Funded

The Trust is funded through the Nedbank Green Affinity Programme, where clients who opt for the competitively positioned Nedbank Green Affinity bank, investment account or insurance policy, can contribute to the Trust at no cost.