South Africa: Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

Programme details:

Staff: Dirk Swart (Section ranger in Hluhluwe)

Location: KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province in South Africa

Species: Black rhino (Diceros bicornis minor) and white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum)

Habitat: The Park is made up of two Game Reserves, which are logistically managed separately but make up one ecosystem: Hluhluwe Game Reserve in the North and iMfolozi Game Reserve in the South. The Park covers an area of approximately 960km², with altitudes ranging from 40-590 meters above sea level. Within iMfolozi is a large Wilderness Area, which is strictly protected and remains virtually inaccessible by road.

Map of HiP close up

Activities supported by Save the Rhino: Anti-poaching and rhino monitoring, law enforcement, aerial surveillance through funding for a Bathawk aircraft. SRI helps provide funding for vital equipment needed for the ranger teams on the ground, including foot patrols, vehicle patrols, Anti-poaching Units (APUs) and the horse establishment in iMfolozi Reserve.

Why support this programme?

The Kwa-Zulu Natal province has the greatest density of rhino in South Africa, and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is home to incredibly important populations of both white and black rhino. The Park is renowned worldwide for being the historical home of the Southern white rhino, following the successful ‘Operation Rhino’ efforts in the 1950s to bring back white rhino from the brink of extinction. The Park is the source population of the world’s Southern white rhino.

The Park also plays an important role in growing South Africa’s black rhino population, with black rhino translocated from the Park to replenish other areas through the Black Rhino Range Expansion Programme.

South Africa is now experiencing the worst poaching crisis in history, with rhinos killed daily throughout the country. During 2013, South Africa  lost 1,004 rhinos, representing more than a 5,000% increase in rhino poaching since 2007. The pressure on rhino areas has never been greater, with highly organised criminal syndicates targeting the country’s rhinos. HiP has sadly recently experienced poaching losses, but with the tireless work of the staff, daily alerts and constant adaptation to new threats, HiP has managed to keep poaching relatively low compared to the losses elsewhere in South Africa, particularly in Kruger National Park. It is clear that without the dedication and hard work of the staff in HiP the numbers of rhinos being poached would be much higher.

The huge rhino poaching threat has meant that ranger staff have had to drastically step up their monitoring and patrol efforts to protect the Park’s rhino. The teams are spending more time in the field and the need for ongoing equipment is essential for the them to operate.

Funding need

The rhino poaching crisis has put huge pressures on HiP to protect its black and white rhino populations. There is an urgent need for ranger teams to increase patrol coverage and anti-poaching activities to prevent poaching in the Park.

EKZNW is able to generate income from tourist lodges etc. to cover some of its operating costs, but with the increased costs associated with tackling the rhino poaching crisis, external donor support is needed to fund essential equipment needed for the ranger teams, as well as extra activities such as aerial surveillance.

The budget from EKZNW funding for HiP is being increasingly stretched with the need to extend rhino monitoring activities. Central funding mainly covers the basics includingstaff salaries, accommodation, uniforms, weapons and vehicle running costs etc. However there is often a shortfall when it comes to some of the equipment and costs at ground level. Equipment such as camping equipment, monitoring and field equipment, vehicle tyres are under-funded and are vital to carry out anti-poaching and monitoring work effectively.

Ongoing donations are needed to help fund equipment in the Park. Previous funding from SRI has supported anti-poaching activities including the purchase of uniforms, tyres, radio equipment, camera equipment, solar panels for rangers working in remote areas, camping equipment such as tents, sleeping bags, water bottles etc. This equipment allows the rangers to do their work effectively. With the growing threat from rhino poaching, the need for ongoing and replacement equipment is greater than ever.

This year donations are needed for items, such as rainproof jackets, bullet proof vests, day bags, solar panels, first aid belt bags, land cruiser tyres, radio equipment, camouflage uniforms, canvas boots and vehicle canopies.

Your donations will make a valuable contribution to the work of this programme and allow HiP’s rangers to continue their excellent work to protect the Park’s rhino.

Comments from the programme

"The continual support from the donors is critical in helping us to be more efficient and effective in the field whilst protecting our rhino populations. Donor funding allows us to purchase and maintain important field equipment, enabling us to initiate new anti-poaching techniques to counter the growing sophistication of poacher syndicates. We thank all those who have contributed in funding over the years and those who wish to help Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park fight the good fight to protect this important founding population from where all white rhino in the world originated." Dirk Swart