By Sihle Mavuso
After the success of recent anti-poaching activities in the air and bush, organisations involved in the fight are now moving to technology to protect the endangered rhino.
The good news is that no rhino has been killed in the province in the last four months and several poaching attempts have been thwarted before they were executed.
Now moves are afoot to fit tracking devices on rhinos to monitor them from time to time while in game reserves and know when it is killed.
Werner Myburgh, CEO of the Peace Parks foundation, said this was one of the many initiatives that are proving to be effective in fighting poaching in the province.
Myburgh said the option of stimulating the controlled irradiation of rhino horns and thus create a detectable “radioactive” signature tag on rhino horn has so far proved to be effective.
“Ezemvelo has made significant progress with investigations into the use of tracking technology and has identified various rhino reserves that may benefit from the use of tracking technology to manage the welfare and security of vulnerable rhino populations.
Due to the sensitive nature of the project no further details can be divulged,” he said.
Ezemvelo spokesperson, Musa Mntambo, confirmed the ongoing project and that together with the foundation, they were piloting the fitting of tracking devices on rhinos.
This follows another successful programme where the foundation and Ezemvelo, using funding from the Dutch and Swedish post lotteries, infused a chemical to alter the internal colour and smell of rhino horns in order to destroy its commercial value when it is killed.
Myburg said they were also working with Mozambique to stop the slaughtering of the rhinos.
In collaboration with the Joaquim Chissano foundation based in Maputo, they were working with the Mozambican government in launching an anti-poaching and counter trafficking programme.
“A noteworthy element of this programme is the establishment of research and information gathering capabilities in Mozambique to support the effectiveness of the programme.”