The Zululand Rhino Reserve
Based in the heart of Zululand, lies the Zululand Rhino Reserve (ZRR), the largest privately owned reserve in Kwazulu-Natal. This 23,000 hectare reserve is the product of 17 dedicated landowners who dropped their fences in 2004 to create one protected area for our wildlife. The long term vision of the ZRR was to increase the conservation footprint and to re-introduce species that historically occurred in the area.
The ZRR has been rewarded for its efforts and great work in conservation, it received the site of conservation significance award in 2005 and in 2009 it was declared a Nature Reserve under the Protected Areas act 57 of 2003, a significant achievement. Being home to over 70 mammal species, including the big 5, an exceptional bird life and diverse fauna, sustaining and improving conservation within the ZRR is of great importance to the reserve.
[i](“A protected area is a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.”
Zululand was the birthplace of the great warrior King Shaka and is known historically for its rich cultural heritage
as well as its abundance of wildlife.
It was here in Zululand’s iMfolozi national park in 1961 that DR Ian Cedric Player began a ground-breaking conservation movement, Operation Rhino, which brought the White Rhino population back from the brink of extinction. It is now estimated that there are over 17000 Southern white rhinos worldwide,-phenomenal growth from the estimated initial count of437 animals, much of this success is attributable to Dr Player and his team’s continuous efforts.
Dr Player speaks on the Zululand Rhino Reserve;
"The Zululand Rhino Private Nature Reserve is a magnificent example of what can be achieved by private citizens. It is of enormous importance that there are areas outside the game reserves and national parks where rhino are protected as they are in the Zululand Rhino Reserve.
I congratulate the ZRR on forming a foundation to raise funds to bring other endangered species into the Rhino Reserve. I applaud too the foundation's determination to assist local Zulu communities, because they are in the front line in the conservation struggle. Local communities are critically important and without their support all conservation efforts face a precarious future."
The ZRR is home to a significant population of endangered black rhino & threatened white rhino. The 21st century brings with it another surge in rhino poaching and the demand for Rhino horn, with the demand set to increase Governments and Non-Governmental organisations alike are working hard on awareness & anti-poaching strategies and programmes in an attempt to reverse this trend. The situation has become so grave that an ever-increasing number of privately owned game reserves are disposing of their rhino, as they considered too much of a risk. Protected, ecologically suitable habitat is crucial, and we are dedicated to conserving the rhino’s population within the ZRR and despite the overwhelming security costs (over 60% of our annual budget) we aim to remain at the forefront of Rhino conservation in Southern Africa.
While the rhino is the ZRR’s flagship species, we are also home to other endangered and threatened species. Since its initiation in 2004 the ZRR has successfully reintroduced black rhino, elephant, cheetah and most recently lion in 2012. African wild dog occasionally visit the reserve and, we hope this is yet another species we can introduce and protect in the near future.
“Local communities have to be invested in and benefit from rhino conservation and management. Poor, vulnerable and uninformed communities living near rhino conservation areas are easily penetrated by poachers and illicit trade syndicates. Thus, more needs to be done to make these communities full-fledged partners in, and beneficiaries of, rhino conservation.” - Minister Edna Molewa, Department of Environmental Affairs South Africa
Life is challenging in rural Zulu communities. Schools are understaffed and lack adequate funding; as a result, many children grow up with poor quality education. Clean water is a rare commodity in rural communities which can negatively impact health and make subsistence farming difficult. Employment in rural areas is scarce and pay is often very low. South Africa is rife with poverty, over 50% of our population lives on less than a dollar a day.
Where there is hunger, a lack of education and poverty, we cannot expect communities to back the conservation efforts of the ZRR. In the wise words of Nelson Mandela, “If you don’t have sustainable development around these (wildlife) parks, then people will have no interest in them, and the parks will not survive.”
Working closely with our regional wildlife department (Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife) and having the full support of CEO Dr. Bandile Mkhize, we are pleased to be initiating our project “African Conservation”. The project aims to identify, with the help of local tribal leaders and conservationists, suitable land for community game reserves. These reserves will be stocked by our foundation and other willing parties, and managed with the help of dedicated conservationists and community members. With these reserves we aim to further expand our conservation effort, whilst uplifting our neighbouring communities, both financially and by providing training and employment opportunities.
We recognise that conservation is more about people and their views, than merely establishing game parks. The ZULULAND RHINO RESERVE FOUNDATION is continuously working to empower local communities through assistance in education and by forging mutually beneficial partnerships in specific conservation initiatives. We believe that empowerment, upliftment, and education will reinforce the value of wildlife and conservation.
The ZULULAND RHINO RESERVE FOUNDATION was set up with the aims of conservation, combating poaching, and establishing and maintaining a strong, mutually beneficial partnership with our neighbouring Zulu communities
Current and future projects of the foundation
•Continued support & running of the Mbuzeli Crèche, this crèche takes care of 30 children below the age of 5, the ZRRF assist with food supplies, donations & general maintenance
•The building & running of 3 crèches in our remaining neighbouring communities
•The continued assistance to local schools, to date we have installed JoJo tanks, upgraded facilities and planted trees in the Manyoni school. We plan to do this in all our local community schools,
•The continued support of the on-going conservation efforts of the ZRR
•The incorporation of local community land into the ZRR, with the community as financial beneficiaries.
•The establishment of reliable water sources and electricity in the neighbouring communities
•Implementation and assistance of various agricultural initiatives & education
•Adult education and training, in various fields including wild life management functions
Please assist us in attaining our goal and become part of this important conservation and humanitarian effort.