"Every debate is important because it keeps the issue alive, and right now that is critical if rhinos are to survive." Ian Player
The Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative is one of the Wilderness Foundation's advocacy and awareness programmes that was launched in May 2011 in response to the rhino poaching crisis. The initiative is concerned with maintaining populations of free ranging rhino within state and privately managed conservation areas.
The initiative supports conservation agencies and organized private game reserves in protecting their rhino as part of a functioning natural ecosystem. It also aims to focus the attention of politicians and decision-makers and encourage them to apply pressure both nationally and abroad to address the issue of illegal trade in rhino horn and other wildlife products.
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In the video below, listen to founder of the Wilderness Foundation, Dr Ian Player, commenting on the current rhino poaching crisis facing South Africa:
“It is still too early to talk of a positive prognosis but every good day takes us another step away from a tragic ending,” says Dr William Fowlds of Investec Rhino Lifeline who is heading up the rhino treatment team.
Fifteen days after a poaching incident at Schotia Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, it has been revealed that the two rhino were darted with illegally acquired veterinary drugs.
Both rhino, named Bonnie and Clyde, had their horns removed during a sophisticated poaching operation. The incident was reported on 30 May after rangers at the reserve located the two missing rhino who were found hiding in thick bush. It is suspected that they had been darted and left for dead by the poachers after their horns were sawn off.
Thandi and Themba made headlines around the world in March 2012 following a horrific poaching incident at Amakhala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. Veterinary teams worked around the clock to try to save both rhino who suffered extensive wounds after their horns were hacked off by poachers. A third rhino was killed during the same incident.
Unfortunately Themba also succumbed to his injuries a few weeks later, but Thandi has become a worldwide figure of hope in the poaching crisis, with millions watching her healing process via social media. Her facial wounds recovered fully, with new skin growing over the gaping nasal cavities, and she was able to reintegrate into the wild with other rhino.