The ZULULAND RHINO RESERVE FOUNDATION was set up in 2011, with the aims of conservation, combating poaching, and establishing and maintaining a strong, mutually beneficial partnership with the Manyoni Private Game Reserve (MPGR), our neighbouring local communities and regional conservation projects. We recognise that conservation is more about people and their views, than merely establishing game parks.
Our Crèche The Foundation currently supports two crèche in our neighbouring communities with a monthly food drop, donations & general maintenance. The Mbuzeli crèche in the Vungama Community, which takes care of 53 children below the age of 5, was built by MPGR and Leopard Mountain in 2008. Ivy, the crèche teacher has been with the crèche since inception and continues to further her studies with the support of the MPGR. Our UBhejane Crèche, in the Sekane community was built and opened by the Foundation in 2014. As this is a relatively new crèche there are 20 pupils registered here; however we are positive, as is Lethiwe the crèche teacher that the number of children attending will increase in the future.
The UBhejane Crèche has recently undergone a makeover, with a generous donation from P.Trimborn Agencies we were able to rebuild the crèche with bricks and a proper foundation, including a kitchen and toilet. The rebuild began in April 2016, and was completed in September. Lots of volunteered time went into the painting and beautifying of the crèche over many weekends, we are very grateful to all the helping hands that crafted the crèche to look bright and welcoming. The UBhejane crèche rebuild generated a lot of interest and lots of donations started to come in all forms from toys to stationary to clothes, we were able to hand over a generous pile to the crèche at the official opening in November 2016.
School Game Drives
In order to educate rural neighbouring school children about the importance of conservation and nature, we take the grade 7’s on a game drive through the reserve. This is a fun day out for the children, who get to enjoy a day out in an open vehicle, with lunch provided, being taught the importance of animals, plants and nature. This year the project spanned out over a month to give each group of children a focused and personalised experience in the bush. We have been lucky to see rhino on all of our drives and involve the children in discussions about rhino conservation and why we have had to dehorn our population to save the species. WWF donated bilingual picture booklets about wildlife towards our game drive project which helps as a learning guide for children to practice the English names of animals and read information about the animals they see.
Mbulungwane Business plan
When the land claims in Northern Zululand were partially settled in 2010 several properties adjacent to the MPGR were handed over to the Mbulungwane Community Trust. Since the handover the Department of Environmental affairs have identified, that nationally, only a small percentage of claimed rural land has successfully been utilised by the new owners. Thus Government has decided to appoint facilitators to bridge the gap between claimant Communities and possible business partners. We are pleased to advise that the ZRRF was approached last year as a potential business partner and are now working closely with the community & appointed partners and are funding the business plans for the adjacent properties based on the community’s wishes and suitable land usage. We are still in the very early stages of this, but we are very excited and look forward to sharing the progress with you in the near future.
The Foundation partner with Rhino Art every year to create something very special in our local schools. We visit all the schools in the area and Rhino Ambassador Richard Mabanga gives the children an interactive educational show on rhino conservation, stressing the importance to conserve our wildlife. Through art, each child is able to express themselves and how they feel about what Richard taught them. The art is judged and each school has a winner. The winner becomes a rhino ambassador and represents their school at an educational camp held at Bhejane Kids environmental camp in Somkhanda game reserve during the school holiday. This project is made possible with the help of WildlifeAct Fund, Kinglsley Holgate Foundation and Project Rhino.
Manyoni Cup Soccer Tournament
The ZRR Foundation continues to sponsor the annual reserve Cup community soccer tournament which is held over the festive period. Great support is shown from the local communities who participate in the 3 day event. We take the opportunity of the various communities gathered together to speak to and educate the crowds about the importance of conservation and the protection of Rhino. A local DJ ensures the players adrenaline is kept pumping & keeps the crowd in good spirits.
Future Community Projects
Our Wonderbag project is ongoing with another 1000 left to distribute, as well as follow up with the training and progress of the 4000 previously handed out.
One of the lodges within the reserve, Rhino River Lodge, has begun a pilot project in one of their neighbouring communities and are assisting with the dropping of a borehole, jojo tanks and the necessary equipment to assist the community with fresh drinking water for themselves and their livestock. We are hoping that this project is a success and we will aim to follow suit in the remaining communities.
Due to the nature of wildlife and how quickly things can happen and change our conservation projects are funded as and when they arise. For example if an animal has a snare that needs to be removed, the foundation will pick up the vet bills, or if an animal has been poached & leaves behind an orphaned calf, the foundation will pay the helicopter fees and for the care of that orphaned calf. We also assist with contraception of animals, the purchase of telemetry and tracking equipment as well as a number of other projects.
The Foundation currently pays the salaries for the dedicated Rhino monitors on the MPGR, as well as sponsoring their fuel and equipment needs.
We welcomed back two of our rhino orphans home to the MPGR on the 22nd September, World Rhino Day 2016. Ithuba and Thando were both orphaned in 2015 and had been living at a Rhino Orphanage off of our reserve until they were at an age old enough to be reintroduced back into the wild. Most recently we have welcomed home black rhinos Nandi and Storm who are under care in a boma on our reserve and we hope to release them into the wild at the end of this year. We still have one 7 month old orphan who is still on milk feeds and under care at the orphanage – plans are underway to move him to a more secure location and we will be taking on these costs.
The Manyoni Private Game Reserve is currently completing the last of our rhino dehorning. This was a tough decision decided by the board of directors as the last chance to save our rhino. This will be an annual project that the Folundation will dedicate funding towards. Managing Director Karen Odendaal had this message to say about the dehorning project:
Dear Conservation Friends When I started my career as a conservationist, never would I have thought in my lifetime the rhino crisis would get to this point. Year after year we heard about rhino being poached but only a handful, and year after year the stats escalated and worry increased. Year after year we put more measures in place, increased feet on the ground, construction on guard towers, advanced communication and the list goes on... Yet year after year we lost rhino to poaching. Rhino poaching incidents are on the rise and the population is declining. Unfortunately, it has come to this…….
With a heavy heart and out of desperation to keep our rhino alive, we, the Manyoni Private Game Reserve took a drastic step and decided to dehorn our entire population. After evaluating all other alternatives and weighing up the pros and cons, we came to the decision that this is the best way forward to protect our rhino population. We have invested heavily in security and will continue to do so and dehorning is only one of the many facets of protecting our wildlife. The conservation team has worked tirelessly and successfully completed this huge undertaking. The horns have been moved to a safe storage facility off the reserve. This is not the solution to the problem, as we are well aware, but we believe that we have taken the best decision to protect our rhinos under these circumstances. While we continue to wage this war to keep these magnificent animals alive we ask for your understanding and support.
Rhino Adventure Ride
The annual Rhino Ride is held to raise funds for Rhino protection on the MPGR and has been highly successful, with bringing in an excess of One million rand in the past 3 years, with the majority of these funds being allocated and spent. We look forward to this event each year and are hoping to begin with a new fundraising event in 2017.
From a security point of view the Foundation supports MPGR’s Anti-Poaching unit as much as we can, as we are aware of the importance in keeping them efficient and on top of their game.
We have sponsored R340’000.00 towards the building of mobile guard camps that will be situated throughout the reserve, this will greatly increase their presence in the area and aims to eliminate reaction times to potential threats
We recently donated 6 Qhubeka Buffalo bikes to our APU team who use these bikes daily to patrol the boundary and within the Manyoni Reserve. The bikes will enable the guards to cover more ground and ultimately allows them to pick up incursions more efficiently.
Please assist us in attaining our goal and become part of this important conservation and humanitarian effort.