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Amarokie the rhino was in the Kruger National Park on an educational visit and enchanted many visitors en route.
He spent some time at Skukuza Reception helping to raise awareness for Unite against Poaching.
As we left the Kruger Park this sign served to emphasise the challenge facing ourrhinos and the rangers who protect them.
This interview was conducted by Scott Ramsay and posted in Africa Geographic
There’s a small sign above Major-General Johan Jooste’s desk at his office in Skukuza, the headquarters of Kruger National Park. It says: “Think Big, Start Small, Act Now”. It’s an apt credo for the man in charge of anti-poaching at South African National Parks.
The 61-year-old ex-army general joined the organisation in 2013, and has been tasked with one of the country’s biggest, most immediate challenges: combatting the scourge of rhino poaching. Last year, 606 rhino were killed in Kruger, out of a total number in South Africa of 1004. “We are fighting a war,” says Jooste, who retired from the army in 2006 after 35 years of service, but also has an MBA and has worked in business development in the arms industry.
I spent this past Saturday flying with General Jooste in one of the anti-poaching helicopters to visit the various section rangers that are based across the vastness of Kruger’s 20 000 square kilometres. We spoke about what he and his team of rangers are doing to fight the poachers, the strategy behind moving 500 rhinos out of Kruger, and the looming threat of elephant poaching.
Scott Ramsay: What is your exact role?
Johan Jooste: I was contracted for five years beginning of 2013 to head up anti-poaching within South African National Park. For now my job is all about Kruger and its rhino. I know there are other parks and other animals – not the least of which is elephant – but for now it’s Kruger and its rhino. That’s the battle we have to win now, without being shortsighted.
SR: What are you dealing with in Kruger?
JJ: We are fighting a war. These rhinos in Kruger are the most valuable cache of environmental assets in the world. Rhino horn is more valuable than gold or platinum. Gram for gram, its the most expensive commodity on the planet. Throughout Africa, rangers are performing military roles to battle poachers. We have to militarise our ranger corps. This problem will not go away. Supply meets demand in Africa. Poaching of rhino is low-risk criminal activity (compared to a cash-in-transit heist), it requires few logistics and it’s relatively easy. A poacher can easily carry a set of horns between 6 and 9kg and he earn millions of rand ultimately.Read more...
Unitrans Volkswagen re-affirmed its commitment in the fight against rhino poaching with the signing of a new sponsorship agreement with the South African National Parks (SANParks) Honorary Rangers at SANParks Head Office in Pretoria today.
South Africa is home to approximately 22 000 white and black rhinoceros of which more than 10 000 are found in the Kruger National Park. This represents around 70% of the world’s total rhino population. The South African population is one of the last viable rhino populations in the world, which makes its survival crucial.
The Unite Against Poaching initiative has contributed almost R7 million to the SANParks’ counter poaching effort over the past three years.
“As the SANParks Honorary Rangers we are very excited about the continued relationship with Unitrans. It is partnerships of this nature that allows us to provide the desperately needed support in terms of training and equipment to the counter poaching teams who are in the bush at this very moment. Unitrans Volkswagen has shown the true commitment of a patriotic company which is dedicated to look after one of our country’s most iconic animals and a valuable conservation resource” says Louis Lemmer, Chairperson of the National Executive Committee, SANParks Honorary Rangers.
Divisional Chief Executive of Unitrans Volkswagen, Kevin Gillmer confirmed the sustained commitment to ensuring that the field rangers on the ground have the skills and equipment to allow them to continue their fight against Rhino poaching. “Unitrans Volkswagen, through the Unite against Poaching fund are honoured to have been able to contribute to the fight against rhino poaching, within South African National Parks (SANParks). Together with the SANParks Honorary Rangers we will continue to empower the dedicated field rangers in the protection of our rhinos.”
SANParks has called on corporates and individuals for extra support for the Honorary Rangers' counter poaching effort in order to assist its rangers in the field. The partnership with Unitrans Volkswagen is a great example of what can be done. Through the sale of vehicles by the ten Unitrans Volkswagen dealerships across the country, the company is able to sustain its support and make a major contribution in the counter poaching war.
SANParks Acting CEO, Abe Sibiya acknowledged and appreciated the re-affirmation of the partnership with Unitrans. “Unitrans Volkswagen is setting a good example of what other corporate citizens should be doing in securing the future of parks. We are truly indebted for Unitrans’ generosity and putting their money where their mouth is. Thanks again to Unitrans VW”.
“The time is now for everyone to Unite Against Poaching and help ensure this precious heritage for our children’s children,” concluded Sibiya. For more information visit www.uniteagainstpoaching.co.za
(From left to right) Glenn Phillips, SANParks Managing Executive: Tourism Development and Marketing; Kevin Gillmer, Divisional Chief Executive of Unitrans Volkswagen and Louis Lemmer, Chairperson of the National Executive Committee, SANParks Honorary Rangers at the signing of the new sponsorship agreement.