All In The Name of Conservation

It’s a tough gig – but somebody’s got to do it.

Expensive, but as I like to maintain there are no pockets in a shroud and if the cost contributes to better appreciation of how other countries value their wild plants and animals then its value for my money.

In my efforts to support the conservation of the last wild rhinos in Africa I have joined the SAVE Rhino foundation.

Heres their website:

On May 12th I boarded a flight to Perth, thence to Johannesburg. To start a full months Safari experience in various camps in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Botswana.

I went with another veterinarian colleague who is as dedicated to learning about overseas conservation projects as I am.  Perhaps we can apply what we found to Australia, in terms of ecotourism, and biodiversity. And tell someone about it.

First tour was to south eastern Zimbabwe, the Save Conservancy, and the hunting lodge called SANGO.

This lodge is usually occupied by well-off big game hunters but because we provide so much support for the rangers and their efforts to protect their rhinos from poachers, we can stay in utter luxury for five days at a time.  So, in terms of conservation this place allows hunting, and conducts photographic safaris, and in this way, it can afford to continue. So, hunting supports conservation in these places. But not rhino hunting.

We were treated to special displays by the rangers of the equipment we have provided, uniforms, boots, tree climbing equipment, firearms, motion detector cameras, two-way radios, drones etc.

They have trained some wonderful tracker dogs in order to catch poachers.

Poachers are armed and dangerous, and equipped with sophisticated firearms, night vision equipment all military style. When the price of rhino horn exceeds the price of gold weight for weight there is no expense spared.

With limited resources and a country in turmoil such as Zimbabwe is right now the playing field is immensely unequal.

We drove around with the rangers and were able to see some rhinos, going for bush walks, and in general were also treated to the immense knowledge of the rangers about the environment, its plants and animals.

We were able to photograph some amazing scenes of animal behaviour and to learn more about the environment.

One of my favourite birds, the lilac breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus)

The rangers were on 24/7 red alert because there was poacher activity close by. After we returned in June there was a sad loss of a 7 months old baby rhino. Apparently, the poachers both died due to their crashing their escape car whilst being chased by the police. But the loss was tragic and such a waste of an endangered innocent animal. Its mother was injured, I have yet to find out where and how badly.

This will increase our efforts to support rhino conservation. We will not give up.

A quote by the director of the SAVE Foundation:

“The committee’s recent visit to another very big rhino conservancy, Bubye Valley, found out that their 680 km boundary is being breached every 3 days by a poaching gang and they’ve already killed 30 rhinos this year!  So we will be increasing our support to their new team of ex British marines in discussion with our team.”

Author:   Michele Cotton. BVSc, BSc (Vet), MVPHMgt, Dip. Int. Animal Health
Director Veterinary Careers

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A generalist veterinarian with wide work experience, including mainstream general practice, management, university teaching, diagnostic services and volunteering in developing countries. I continually seek new ways to apply my training to help others set and achieve goals they didnt know existed, and all with a basic veterinary degree.