Addo Elephant National Park’s fight against rhino poaching was stepped up a notch recently when it took ownership of a Polaris all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and a specially designed “rhino” trailer for use in the field.
This was thanks to a financial injection from the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet fundraising programme’s MyPlanet Rhino Fund (administered by the Endangered Wildlife Trust) for the ATV and the Rhino Action Group Effort (RAGE) and TW Steel’s donation of one of only four-of-its-kind trailers.
The Polaris ATV and trailer will significantly benefit Addo Elephant National Park’s anti-poaching initiatives and will be deployed in the northernmost, Darlington section of the park.
Park Manager, Mzwandile Mjadu, says the monitoring of rhinos forms an integral component of any protection and biological management plan for the species. Currently rangers monitor and secure this section of the park through a combination of foot patrols, vehicle-borne patrols as well as other 24/7 surveillance measures.
“ATV’s have proved to be indispensable workhorses in the park, allowing rangers to access remote areas that are inaccessible to normal vehicles in order to ensure efficient area coverage. While doing so they maintain area integrity – as the ATV’s provide access to environmentally sensitive areas with reduced environmental impact,” says Mjadu.
The Polaris ATV replaces an older one, which was irreparable after four years of service and will once again allow field rangers to carry out their sensitive work in the protection of our endangered wildlife. “Patrols can now be more effectively done on the northern boundary fence, a recognised threat area, during the day and night, as well as internally in the main rhino movement areas. The vehicle will also be used for site inspections and visible policing,” Mjadu says. It is capable of transporting two field rangers, armed with R1 rifles and luggage suitable for anti-poaching activities.
“The MyPlanet Rhino Fund was formed in 2011 to support best practise initiatives in rhino conservation and we have raised more than R3.2 million to date. We are eager to continue supporting Addo and other worthy causes,” says Heléne Brand, Marketing and CSI Manager for MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet.
Meanwhile, the specially-designed trailer was developed with funds raised through an initiative by TW Steel, the global lifestyle brand ‘Big in Oversized Watches’. The self-sustaining trailers are equipped with a solar panel, providing power to three deep-cycle batteries, which in turn charge radios, maintaining communication lines. A freezer also runs off the system, benefitting personnel deployed in extremely high temperatures. A panel on the trailer unfolds into a gas stove for cooking purposes. The space inside the trailers is used for storing food, water, bedding and tents. The trailer allows teams of up to ten members to be sustained for a period of up to ten days before needing to be re-supplied.
“The rhino trailer has made it possible for our rangers to be deployed to undisclosed locations in the section. It has further increased the capacity of our anti-poaching operations as previously rangers were confined to one picket which severely limited the travelling distances that could be patrolled on foot. The trailer enables them to be moved around regularly which means that larger areas can now be patrolled,” says Mjadu.
“Thanks to these generous donations, our rangers are now better equipped than ever to carry out South African National Parks’ mandate of protecting our natural assets, especially our rhino. We are thankful and humbled,” Mjadu says.