Faced with a devastating exponential rise in illegal rhino poaching in South Africa, Rhinos Without Borders was formed in order to start moving these endangered animals away from the poaching hotspots to a safer environment. The illegal trade in rhino horn has seen the number of these magnificent creatures poached throughout Africa rise significantly in recent years. Since 2008, 7,130 rhinos have been poached in South Africa.
Rhinos Without Borders is a joint initiative between andBeyond and Great Plains Conservation, two leading conservation and tourism companies. The project aims to translocate 100 rhinos from high-risk poaching areas in South Africa to the comparative safety of Botswana. Botswana has been carefully selected for its extremely low poaching rates, thanks in part to its ‘no tolerance’ policy when encountering potential threats.
Where appropriate, the rhinos are transported by air, in order to shorten the journey and lessen the amount of stress placed on the animals. The budget to translocate one rhino is $45,000. The whole project, including ongoing and monitoring and security, requires a total budget of $4.5 million.
Rhinos Without Borders has already succeeded in moving 87 rhinos from a high-risk poaching zone and significantly decreased the likelihood of these endangered animals being killed. In their new habitat, 22 rhinos have been born from these 77. The remaining 23, to reach the target of 100 have been identified and will be translocated within 2019. Each rhino, when translocated, will be fitted with specially design telemetry devices for ongoing research and monitoring purposes.
During the course of the project, the team has finely tuned their specialist knowledge, becoming proficient in both the mechanics and the policy involved in moving these massive animals across borders. As the project’s reputation has grown, so sourcing the rhino to be moved has become easier, with landowners increasingly contacting the team to take charge of vulnerable animals.
Spearheaded by companies that are technically rivals yet that both depend on wildlife conservation for their success, Rhinos Without Borders is an excellent example of private sector companies working with the government to make an impact on conservation issues.
“It took us three years to move the first 37 rhino and now we have translocated 40 in just three weeks,” says andBeyond CEO Joss Kent. As the target of 100 rhino moved draws nearer, the Rhinos Without Borders team is putting ever more focus on monitoring the released animals. “Considering the sheer logistical and technical challenge of moving that many rhino in such a short space of time, the huge success of the move represents the incredibly tight cohesion and teamwork that has developed between the andBeyond and Great Plains Conservation teams,” concludes Kent.
Rhinos Without Borders continues to raise funds to allow for the safe movement of even more rhino.