The Zambezi Society recently appealed for funding to fly aircraft to dehorn and ear-notch black rhinos in the Matusadona National Park and Intensive Protection Zone.
The week-long operation was part of a Zimbabwe-wide exercise to improve rhino protection and management in response to the massive increase in rhino poaching that is sweeping Southern Africa. The operation was led by AWARE Trust veterinarians with funding from SAVE Australia, but each organisation involved was required to contribute toward costs.
The Zambezi Society is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation The Zambezi Society is a non-profit, nongovernmental organisation [sic\ “conserving the wildlife and wild places of the Zambezi River for the benefit of wilderness, wildlife and people.” Among many donations, the Balmain Trust in the UK donated GBP 2000, continuing a ten year relationship with the Zambezi Society.
The de-horning and ear-notching exercise was designed to do three things; firstly to provide clear data on how many rhino remain within Matusadona National Park. Some have proved very elusive over the past couple of years. Secondly to enable scouts to positively indentify each individual rhino by its unique earnotch pattern. Scout monitors carry cameras and photograph each rhino seen.
The position is marked by GPS and any other relevant information is noted. Thirdly the exercise was to remove the horns from as many of the Matusadona rhino population as possible. “This is a desperate measure, but once the word gets out that they’re all de-horned they will offer a far less attractive target for poachers,” notes a Zambezi Society report.
But with the operation complete, the animals still need to be closely monitored and protected, with significant costs involved. Save the Rhino International has assisted the Zambezi Society with this work for many years. “But there is never enough support to keep vehicles in good working order, monitoring and keeping anti-poaching teams properly equipped with fuel supplies ready to deploy when required,” reports the Zambezi Society. “We need all the support we can get.”