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On of my favourite South African musicians, Ard Matthews, joined Wildlife ACT in Zululand recently. Who doesn’t remember the epic Just Jinger ballads we grew up with: Father and Farther, Shallow waters, Like you madly and Redemption song? He’s a true rockstar with an enormous heart!

Ard joined the Wildlife ACT Fund team to get some first-hand rhino conservation experience as he felt so strongly about the current rhino poaching crisis. He wanted to know what is was like to be part of an anti-poaching team and the ground team who look after and monitor rhino. He spent five hours tracking a feisty black rhino through thick Zululand bush. It was a serious challenge both mentally and physically – they spotted poacher’s tracks, had to climb a thorn tree to avoid being trampled and only then could they call in the vet! The rhino had to be darted and collared for monitoring purposes.

He went out onto a community game reserve managed by Thanda Private Game Reserve in Zululand and spent time with Dr Simon Morgan and Zama, the guys from the Wildlife ACT Fund.

This is what went down…

Here’s an extract from his blog talking about the anti-poaching unit he spent a few hours with on a full-moon night:

‘These guys are such legends. Unfortunately I am not authorised to reveal anything about their operations but just know this, they do exhaustive, selfless work for very little money. There is a major war going on to protect our wildlife and these dudes are risking life and limb, in the most brutal conditions, because they care. I was privileged enough to go on patrol till 2h30am, listening to their stories about how hard it is to make proper arrests and how poachers end up having more rights than they do. It’s quite ridiculous and once again it points to a complete lack of interest from a government level. They told me stories about how, once they’ve made the arrest, the poacher would fall out of the van at the police station and scream that he has been assaulted and the APU guys would have to spend months fighting off criminal charges against them. It’s so ridiculous. Makes my blood boil.

Please people, let’s unite. Ask your local council to step up and allow the prosecution process to be unhampered by corruption and apathy. Let’s make sure that any and all poachers be brought to sufficient justice in a timeous manner so that these heroes can get back out in to the field to carry on with the good fight.’

 

Thanks to Wildlands Conservation Trust who sponsored the darting operation. This organisation is a member of Project Rhino KZN.



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