Conservationists observed World Rhino Day on Tuesday, taking note of the fact that more than 50% of rhino in South Africa is currently under private protection.
According to the Spokesperson for Limpopo Rhino Conservation, Carmela Lattanzi-D’Arrigo, the White Rhino, the second largest land animal in the world, had roamed over the Southern half of the African continent in large numbers in the nineteenth century. In 1952, the White Rhino was on the brink of extinction with fewer than 500 animals remaining, confined to 72 000 acres – not nearly enough territory for them to remain healthy and alive.
“It is with thanks that conservationists such as the late Ian Player (1927-2014) and his co-workers are remembered for saving this species from extinction. Dr Player’s work in environmental education, conservation, and activism contributed greatly to today’s wildlife conservation in South Africa. He spearheaded Operation Rhino in the 1960’s, successfully relocated the few remaining White Rhinos to safer and larger habitats, but he also facilitated the move of many White Rhinos to zoological gardens and safari parks around the world to ensure the breed’s survival and saved the threatened White Rhino from extinction,” Lattanzi-D’Arrigo says.
According to him, there are currently between 17 000 and 18 000 White Rhino left, with approximately 9 500 rhino in private custodianship.
“The numbers have grown in private ownership due to the extensive security and resources that private owners invest in protecting this iconic species and like all wildlife in South Africa, the White Rhino is part of our heritage and it is every South African’s duty to conserve this national heritage,” she explained.
According to Lattanzi-D’Arrigo, Limpopo Rhino Conservation is a non-profit company consisting of private rhino owners who joined hands with the South African Police, Ledet and the Department of Justice, to combat poaching.
“Since the inception of Limpopo Rhino Conservation in 2014, poaching dropped by 80% within the first 12 months in the Northern Limpopo area. The period March to July 2020 presented zero poaching in our group and we thank the stringent Covid-19 restrictions for this reduction in poaching incidents. As restrictions levels were lifted, so did poaching increase,” she added.
“Most of the rhino in the Limpopo Rhino Conservation ownership have unfortunately been dehorned, and are all protected around the clock with armed guards,” she concluded.
Story: Barry Viljoen