On September 22, 2014 – to celebrate World Rhino Day – TreadRight unveiled the Wildlife Initiative, introducing a new approach to our sustainable efforts, working to provide comprehensive

The Wildlife Initiative first focused its support on the plight of the rhino and the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking, a critical threat of unprecedented proportions. Three years into the Wildlife Initiative and the number of species it is working to help has expanded, but we remain as dedicated as ever to working towards ensuring the survival of rhinos.

In 2016, TreadRight Ambassador Céline Cousteau travelled to South Africa to visit one of our original Wildlife Initiative partners –  the Wilderness Foundation Africa - to learn more about their important work.

Over the past three years we have had the privilege of witnessing the Wilderness Foundation Africa respond to the rhino poaching crises by delivering inspiring on the ground and aerial anti-poaching actions, increase security and law enforcement actions, increase public awareness of the crises, and reduce demand for rhino horn in user countries.

Most recently, Wilderness Foundation Africa staff member Thu Huynh, based in Ho Chi Minh City as part of the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative Project Office, spent a week in South Africa in July 2017 as part of an induction programme. Thu Huynh was accompanied by Ha My Doan Pham, the CSR Manager at SOUL Music & Performing Arts Academy.

Wilderness Foundation Africa hosted them at Addo Elephant National Park in order to immerse them in the rhino poaching crisis and the work being done by Wilderness Foundation Africa. Among the activities they experienced on this visit was a morning with the WFA pilots and aircraft used to assist in rhino security.

Wilderness Foundation Africa utilises two light aircraft for security flights, namely the TreadRight Bat Hawk, which was funded through the TreadRight, and a BushCat. These two aircraft spend many hours flying over Eastern Cape rhino reserves to facilitate far quicker response times to any detected threats.

Both aircraft are fitted with the latest available mobile data tracking hardware and software, which allows pilots to communicate accurate positions of rhino spotted from the air as well as poachers by the touch of a button. This real time data is streamed to the ground teams who will then be able to drive directly to any required scene. This technology in the aircraft eliminates human error when reporting co-ordinates or failed radio transmissions.

To celebrate World Rhino Day 2017, TTC's own Lion World Travel and African Travel, Inc. are reminding travellers that for every couple who book either Lion World Travel’s Tented Safari in Style or African Travel’s Majestic South, a portion of their booking will help buy patrol time for the TreadRight Bat Hawk and another portion of their booking will be used to help build and expand the rhino boma, an enclosure used for orphaned and injured rhinos at Shamwari Game Reserve.

At the centre, Shamwari’s expert team of wildlife veterinarians, led by the renowned Dr. Johan Joubert, care for injured, sick and orphaned animals to nurse them back to health so that they can be released back into the wild. The variety of species that the centre has taken care of is diverse: zebras, giraffes, leopards, caracals, sables, and rhinos have all called the centre home. Rhinos in particular have benefitted from the rehabilitation centre and its staff. Shamwari has not had a single rhino poaching on their reserve in over three years, a remarkable achievement in South Africa that is helping to ensure the species remains vibrant for generations to come.

The Lion World Travel and African Travel team celebrate after completing the rhino boma. Photo by Kelly Scott.

Three white rhinos call the rehabilitation centre home: Noelle, Winston and Chip. Noelle and Winston came to Shamwari as orphans, after poachers killed their mothers. Since arriving at Shamwari, Noelle and Winston have become inseparable—they do everything together including eating, playing and sleeping. Chip is the most recent addition to Shamwari’s rhino “crash”—he arrived at Shamwari in September 2016 and has quickly become close with Noelle and Winston.

Noelle, Winston, and Chip are just the beginning of Shamwari’s growing rhino rehabilitation project. Many rhinos will call the rehab centre home over the decades to come.

 

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Related Project(s): Wilderness Foundation Africa