To help make this wish come true, the Wildlife ACT Fund has developed what we believe to be a holistic conservation approach based on 3 cornerstones:
- We help to purchase much needed equipment like tracking collars and transmitters so that endangered and threatened animals can be monitored every day thereby helping to ensure their safety;
- We help to identify and develop anti-poaching technology and then implement the use thereof in the field to save the lives of endangered and threatened animals;
- We aim to help rural communities who live close to game reserves to develop a love and respect for nature, provide them with reasons to protect it, and to advance economic empowerment.
Life saving equipment
To track endangered species like Cheetah, African Wild Dog and Leopard, various forms of tracking collars are used. These include radio, GPS and satellite collars. Since we cannot use collars on rhinos, we place special transmitters inside their horns. This equipment makes it possible to monitor these animals daily, which means that if they are injured, sick, trapped in a poacher’s snare, or have escaped out of a reserve, help is not far away. Important research can also be conducted including animal movement patterns, population demographics and inter-species interactions, all to help with the future conservation of these species.
The Fund is also helping to develop and test anti-poaching collars with reinforced plates and special rivets to prevent animals like Cheetah, Leopards or Wild Dogs from choking when caught in a poacher’s snare – this means that a collar can literally save an animal’s life!
To the rescue
Another example of potentially lifesaving equipment is the ‘state of the art’ anti-poaching transmitter technology that the Wildlife ACT Fund has helped to identify and recently implement. These sophisticated transmitters send real-time info to monitors about the movements of the animal and its exact location. When fitted in a rhino horn for example, the movement sensor will trigger an alarm when the rhino is in distress, and can even detect when its horn is being hacked off – this gives us the opportunity catch the perpetrators in the act, and in the case of animals caught in a snare, for the snare to be removed before they die. In January 2011 after months of planning, Wildlife ACT Fund members formed part of a team to implement the very first system, by inserting these transmitters into the horns of all the rhino on a reserve in Zululand, South Africa. With this system now in place, these rhino are significantly safer from poachers.
Endangered animals to save them
Another great way to monitor endangered animals is to use remote activated camera traps. The “shots” provide monitors and researchers with fantastic information, allowing them to assess the status of endangered species on a reserve, and to help develop and monitor management interventions.
As an example, here is the first-ever record of the cubs from a very shy female Cheetah (she had not been seen for 6 months!) on a game reserve in South Africa. No one knew that she had cubs or whether she was still alive until these photographs captured her and her cubs at a waterhole at 2am!
Above right is another example of how remote camera trapping can benefit endangered species conservation. By capturing images of the Black Rhino (on an undisclosed reserve), it was possible to establish how many rhino’s there are on the reserve and create accurate identity kits of the individuals. Without this information it is almost impossible to create effective conservation management programs to ensure the continued survival of these species.
All too often, communities that live around reserves are ostracized from conservation areas. Also, when rural communities are not helped to sustain themselves, or given adequate conservation education, we cannot expect these communities to do anything but look to the protected areas for resources as means of survival. The Wildlife ACT Fund initiated a Community Conservation Project to help address these issues.
In-School conservation lessons
Early in 2011, Wildlife ACT Fund’s Community Conservation Liaison started teaching conservation lessons in primary schools within the Gumbi Community in Zululand. The lessons will be conducted throughout the school year during school hours as part of students’ regular education. Students are given lessons (amongst others) in wildlife identification and ecology, understanding ecological relationships, the importance of preserving biodiversity, conservation issues associated with snare hunting, and show conservation films and nature documentaries.
Kid’s Bush Camp Program
Towards the end of 2011, all grade six students from five Gumbi Community schools will be invited to attend a free-of-charge, four-day conservation education camp at an existing facility within Somkhanda Game Reserve. Wildlife ACT Fund is refurbishing a former hunting camp for this purpose. Wildlife ACT Fund intends to expand the programme to more primary schools as funding becomes available. The programme will emphasize hands-on child-centred discovery activities to teach students conservation concepts. The program is designed to instil a passion for nature conservation in young people.
Adult Conservation Seminars
The Community Conservation Liaison will also consult with village heads to arrange opportunities to interact directly with the members in the community. The seminars will be used as a means to investigate the community member’s own perspectives on the economic development and food security needs of each village. These seminars will also include presentations about the purpose and importance of nature conservation in their area. Using information and feedback from interactions, Wildlife ACT Fund will research the feasibility of different community development options for the purpose of alleviating some of the economic and food security issues, especially driving the bush meat trade and other unsustainable uses of natural resources in the area.
Make a difference
- One VHF collar can literally save an animals’ life, and it costs only $500. We have many Wild Dog, Cheetah, Lion and Leopard that need collars.
- Remote camera traps allow conservation managers to estimate the status of their endangered species and costs only $600, and last over 5 years.
- To host a child on our Kid’s Bush camp is $10 a day. So every little bit helps!
- Join us on Facebook and Twitter, and tell people you know to do the same.
Join Wildlife ACT monitors in the bush to help track endangered species every day – click here.
Branch Code: 632005
Address: ABSA House 25 St Georges Mall
Swift code: ABSAZAJJ
Account number: 4075871640
Account name: Action Conservation Team CC