Rhino protection in the Eastern Cape recently received a boost as field rangers from local game reserves participated in an important mentoring project that is an ongoing collaboration between the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) and the Chipembere Rhino Foundation (CRF), funded in part by Mastertons Coffee & Tea Specialists.
GRAA and CRF have supported Eastern Cape rhino reserves over the years with area integrity assessments and funding for counter-insurgency tracker training, tactical night shooting, K9 handling capability and first responder first aid training.
The mentoring session, held between 27 September and 15 October 2021, follows on seven previous mentoring sessions in the Eastern Cape since June 2019, with a focus on multiple private game reserves.
Individual rangers and reserve teams were mentored to gain confidence in their own capabilities and to think and problem solve individually and as teams. Mentoring took place in the field and efforts were focussed on high-risk areas to add protection benefits to the reserves.
Along with the mentoring sessions, capacity development needs assessments and protected area ranger capability assessments were completed to prioritise future training needs.
Following the mentoring sessions, integrated incursion scenario sessions were held at Shamwari. In total, 27 rangers from five different reserves participated in the scenarios created to grow their leadership potential.
An APU member from Graaff Reinet was also included as he is responsible for intelligence and information gathering in the area, which benefits local reserves. His attendance also further encouraged teamwork and networking.
The project also contributed to building the positive working relationship between CRF, GRAA and private rhino owners. This approach feeds into the national strategy of developing Wildlife Protection Zones and meets some of the objectives of Indalo in the Eastern Cape.
One of the most important successes of this project is the co-operation, team building and morale boosting achieved, reducing the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meetings were also held with the Addo Elephant National Park and the Great Fish River Nature Reserve. Their future participation will ensure great strides towards an integrated approach to rhino protection in the Eastern Cape.
The mentoring project was funded in part by Mastertons Coffee & Tea Specialists, through the sales of their Chipembere Rhino Blend coffee that is “Roasted for a Cause”. For every 250 grams of Chipembere Rhino Blend coffee sold, R5 is donated to the CRF to aid their rhino conservation efforts.
Image Credit: Peter Chadwick