GNF - Project Rhino: Fight agianst illegal poaching in South Africa

Project Rhino in South Africa



Due to the medical effect that is incorrectly attributed to the rhino’s horn and the high prices that are being paid on Asian black markets, Africa’s rhino species have been brought to the brink of extinction over the last years. In combination with the often prevalent, insufficient development and the high poverty rate in the last remaining habitats of the animals, poaching developed to be a hardly controllable and rapidly growing threat – not only to the survival of the species but also to the economic situation and future possibilities of the game reserves and surrounding communities.


South Africa hosts over 80 % of the African rhino populations. Thus, the country plays a key role in the fight against illegal poaching and the protection and conservation of the last remaining black and white rhinos. Especially eastern South Africa – including the famous Kruger National Park and the province KwaZulu Natal (KZN) – hosts a vast majority of the animals. Transboundery parks, such as the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park that stretches from South Africa over Mozambique and Zimbabwe are said to increase protected areas and to facilitate the peaceful cooperation between neighboring countries. Here, especially cross-border efforts in the field of prevention of poaching are essential for the protection of the endangered rhino species.


But also within the country is the merging of expertise, financial and physical resources as well as professional capacities of utmost importance in the area-wide fight against poaching. In order to achieve this for the province KwaZulu Natal, the Project Rhino KZN has been founded – an initiative of several, dedicated organizations, which coordinates and improves the implementation of anti-poaching activities as well as the interconnectedness and cooperation between regional reserves with black and white rhino populations.


Together with Wildlands Conservation Trust, the activities of Project Rhino KZN will be supported in order to reduce the risk of poaching incidences in the region. This will be done by improving the network among the reserves, coordinating actions and effectively monitoring the rhino populations.


For an overall coordination of anti-poaching activities across the reserves, a dedicated Rhino Intervention Unit will be established. This unit organizes and monitors activities in the region and coordinates monthly control flights over the participating reserves. Furthermore, the mobile aerial unit – the Zululand Antipoaching Wing – is also available for rapid response flights, in order to react on incidences quickly. Having an oversight from the helicopter, the pilots can localize poachers and killed animals more easily and guide rangers on the ground efficiently. The Rhino Intervention Unit also supports the investigation of poaching incidences, collects important evidences and liaises with private and public authorities and initiatives in the region. Through the professional handling and following up of cases including the coordinated collection of consistent evidences, incidences can be better documented and analyzed, which shall increase the success rate of capturing poachers and during the trials.


The Somkhanda reserve – where GNF supports rhino protection and rural development since several years now – is also part of the project area. In the framework of this project, the reserve rangers will receive further training on prevention of poaching. Experiences and lessons learned will be brought in from other reserves for increasing professionalism and effectiveness. Furthermore, selected rhinos will be equipped with GPS units in order to allow for an easier monitoring of the animals through the rangers.


The important, transboundary coordination and cooperation will be supported by two exchange meetings of park managers and rangers from South Africa and Mozambique. Goal is, to identify existing gaps in the current cooperation on prevention of poaching between the two countries and to develop recommendation for improving this situation. Mozambique is one of the central gateways for contrabandism of illegal rhino horn from South Africa. An effective cooperation between the two countries is thus essential for ensuring concerted activities as well as an improved prosecution on both sides of the borders.

 The population of White Rhinos in South Africa is threatened by illegal poaching.
 A rhino, falled victim to illegal poaching.
 A drugged rhino gets a sender.
 The locating of rhinos with senders is realized by skilled rangers.
 Zululand Antipoaching Wing - Flights for the protection of rhinos
 The protection of rhinos has priority.

Project Partner

 Wildlands Conservation Trust


 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

on behalf of

 German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
 German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)

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Project Rhino: Fight against illegal poaching in South Africa


August 2015 – April 2017


South Africa


Wildlands Conservation Trust


GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)