Wild At Life Project

Rhinoceros Conservation and Rescue

Activity status: Ongoing
Area of Activity: South Africa

At the end of October, Wild at Life e.V. was present in South Africa to kickstart our first-ever rhinoceros conservation mission. This was done together with our long-term, local partners. Collaborating with fellow NGOs strengthens our collective efforts in combating poaching, fortifying our impact and effectiveness.

A rhinoceros is a large herbivorous mammal known for its thick skin and one or more horns on its snout. There are five species: Black, White, Indian, Javan, and Sumatran.

The trafficking of animals is a serious global issue, and unfortunately, rhinos fall in the top five list of most trafficked animals. The plight of rhinos is mainly due to poaching for their horns, which are highly valued in some traditional medicine practices. Despite a lack of scientific evidence, there is a belief that rhino horns can cure various ailments, including fevers and cancers. Rhino horns are also sometimes used as status symbols or for ornamental purposes.

This has led to a significant decline in rhino populations, making them endangered. Conservation efforts, including anti-poaching measures and habitat protection, are crucial for their survival.

Rhino protection and conservation efforts can be dangerous due to various factors. Conservationists and anti-poaching patrols may encounter armed poachers, leading to confrontations. Additionally, the vast areas where rhinos live can also present challenges. Harsh terrain, unpredictable wildlife, and sometimes political instability in the regions can complicate efforts.

Despite these challenges, conservation organizations like Wild at Life e.V., work to implement effective strategies and prioritize the safety of those involved in protecting rhinos.

With the funds raised, Wild at Life e.V. was able to set up a base station and collar four out of ten rhinos with AI-tracking collars. This is the latest technology and compared to GPS collars, is lighter, cheaper, and functions over a longer period of time. The rhinos can even be tracked via our smartphones!

Collaring is of paramount importance. It

  • combats anti-poaching efforts by helping conservationists monitor the movement of rhinos in real-time. This information is crucial for identifying and responding to potential poaching threats, allowing for quicker intervention to protect the rhinos.
  • valuable data on rhino behaviour, migration patterns, and habitat use. This information helps conservationists develop effective strategies for habitat protection, management, and anti-poaching efforts.
  • contributes to population management by helping conservationists understand the demographics of rhino populations, including birth rates, mortality rates, and population distribution. This information is essential for making informed conservation decisions.

In our unwavering commitment to the conservation of rhinoceros populations, Wild at Life e.V. is constantly exploring innovative approaches to rescue and protect these magnificent creatures.

For instance, we are considering the potential of blood and plasma transfusions between rhinos. In the event that one rhino suffers severe injuries from poaching, the transfusion of blood or plasma from a healthy rhino could prove instrumental in its recovery. This ground-breaking initiative not only exemplifies our dedication to finding novel solutions but also underscores the interconnectedness of these remarkable animals.

Check out what happened that day in this YouTube video.

Stay tuned for our second collaring mission which will be carried out in January 2024!

Update: March 17, 2024

Safeguarding Rhinos through Conservation Efforts

The poaching crisis facing rhinos, driven by the demand for their horns, is a devastating reality. Each year, hundreds fall victim to this illegal trade, with their horns sought after for perceived medicinal and ornamental purposes.

Our organization is dedicated to combating this tragedy through innovative measures. We employ AI-powered tracking devices, allowing us to monitor their movements and swiftly respond to any threats. Additionally, we collect plasma samples to create a comprehensive database, aiding in the identification and protection of individual rhinos. By leveraging technology and scientific advancements, we strive to keep these magnificent creatures safe from harm, preserving their populations for future generations to admire and cherish.

AI-Powered Tracking Devices

We use AI-powered tracking devices for rhinos to monitor their movements and behaviors for several crucial reasons. Firstly, these devices help us to understand their habitat preferences, migration patterns, and daily routines, which are vital for effective conservation strategies. By collecting data on where they roam, we can identify key areas for protection and ensure they have access to suitable habitats.

Secondly, these devices serve as a powerful tool against poaching. With real-time tracking capabilities, we can swiftly respond to any suspicious activity or threats to the rhinos’ safety. This allows law enforcement and conservation teams to intervene promptly, potentially saving lives and deterring poachers.

Moreover, the data collected from these devices provides invaluable insights into rhino health and well-being. We can monitor factors such as stress levels, activity levels, and social interactions, aiding in the early detection of illness or injury. This proactive approach to monitoring their health helps us to provide timely medical intervention when needed, ultimately contributing to their overall survival and reproductive success.

Plasma Samples

We collect plasma samples from rhinos as part of a unique and innovative approach to conservation and anti-poaching efforts. These plasma samples serve a critical purpose: they become a lifeline for rhinos who may fall victim to poaching in the future.

When a rhino is poached, its horn is brutally removed, often leaving the animal to bleed to death.

This means that the rhino whose plasma we collected becomes a blood donor for their fellow rhinos in need. When a rhino is poached and survives the ordeal, each plasma donor rhino becomes a potential savior for their kind, offering a second chance at life to those who have suffered at the hands of poachers.

Why do we Trim the Horns?

The answer lies in disrupting the illegal trade that fuels poaching. Rhino horns are highly sought-after commodities, fetching exorbitant prices on the black market. By preemptively trimming the horns under controlled, safe conditions, we remove the incentive for poachers to target these animals. Without their horns, rhinos become less attractive targets, reducing the risk to their lives.

Moreover, trimming the horns is a proactive approach to safeguarding their well-being. Poachers often resort to brutal methods, including tranquilizer overdoses or even hacking off horns while the rhinos are still alive. This barbaric practice not only causes immense suffering but also poses grave risks to the rhinos’ health and survival.

By trimming the horns safely and humanely, we eliminate the need for rhinos to endure the trauma of poaching attempts. It’s a preventative measure that aims to keep these animals safe, healthy, and thriving in their natural habitats. Additionally, the removed horns are often stockpiled or marked with indelible dye, making them worthless on the black market.

In the video below, we see the devastating effects of rhino poaching. It exposes the brutal reality of poaching and shows our organization’s efforts to fight against it. You can also see us in action deploying the tracking devices on the rhinos as well as collecting plasma samples.

This project is carried out in the following activity areas
Endangered species rescue, conservation & anti-poaching

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