Rhino Conservation Awards: Conservation Supporters
The shortlisted finalists in the Conservation Supporters category of Africa’s 2020 Rhino Conservation Awards are:
- Lynne Taylor – Director of ‘The Tashinga Initiative Trust’, Zimbabwe supporting rangers and their work in the entire Zambezi Valley region
- SANParks E&CI – The Environmental Crime and Corporate Investigations (E&CI) Unit of SANParks focus on the investigation and apprehension of organized crime syndicates across South Africa
- WWF-SA Wildlife Programme – A WWF-SA initiative working in Southern Africa and beyond to conserve rhinos and other endangered wildlife.
WWF Wildlife Programme
The Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP) began in 2003. This project has achieved tremendous conservation gains during this time. In 2012 this work was expanded to form a broader Rhino Programme and in 2017 it transitioned into the current Wildlife Programme.
The Wildlife Programme works tirelessly to expand the range of black rhino, both in South Africa and beyond whilst undertaking scientific research to ensure that the best practise and management principles are followed. At the same time, additional aspects of work focus on reducing wildlife trafficking within the greater Kruger landscape and beyond into Mozambique by building relationships with communities and supporting relevant wildlife trafficking policies, both in South Africa and Mozambique to benefit a range of species.
Through the BRREP, the WWF South Africa Wildlife Programme has created thirteen new black rhino populations since 2003 – twelve in South Africa and the most recent being the first regional translocation to Liwonde National Park in Malawi.
The team and partners have decades of technical experience between them, and are constantly honing their capture, translocation and monitoring skills to improve each operation through adaptive management and research.
The levels of passion, commitment and innovation displayed by all team members for their work go a long way in overcoming the odds. The partnerships forged with government, private sector, NGOs and communities are critical in achieving Programme goals.
WWF SA supported children’s environmental camps run by Wildlife ACT to develop awareness of and empathy towards wildlife and conservation amongst children and youth from communities bordering game reserves in rural KwaZulu-Natal.
The Environmental Crime and Corporate Investigations (ECI) Unit of South African National Parks (SANParks) focus on the investigation and apprehension of organized crime syndicates, responsible for the destruction of rhino, abalone, elephant and other animal and plant populations.
The ECI Team work in close cooperation with the South African Police Services and other law enforcement conservation authorities in order to combat rhino poaching and other environmental crime violations.
The nominated ECI Investigators team had been actively involved in the fight against poaching and the neutralization of rhino smuggling syndicates for more than 20 years.
During the reporting period, ECI Investigators made a serious impact and were directly or indirectly responsible or involved in the arrests of poachers inside and outside South African National Parks as well as the confiscation of firearms and ammunition.
Lynne Taylor is the Director of the Tashinga Initiative Trust in Zimbabwe. Her conservation approach was largely influenced by the Zimbabwe Rhino Wars of the 1980s and 1990s. Lynne has always been acutely aware of the important conservation role of the ranger. She recognises that a physically, mentally healthy ranger team that is motivated, well-equipped and adequately trained is a core conservation need.
Over the years, Lynne has ensured everything from the installation of multiple solar powered water pumps; to VHF radio connectivity and VSAT for internet which enables real-time response across these vast protected areas; to antipoaching equipment; to vegetable gardens and supported rangers’ children’s education. Lynne has also funded and run counter poaching training courses, growing these ranger’s self-belief to operate optimally in the field, as well as their stature within their communities. She has helped in instilling a sense of pride and common purpose among the ranger community, which ultimately benefits and secures the biodiversity of the wild landscape of the Zambezi Valley.
The Zambezi Valley, where Tashinga operates, hosts a broad range of wildlife including several endangered species such as the now very restricted black rhino, elephant, the African pangolin, painted (wild) dog, sable and roan antelope.
Lynne believes that to conserve these and other species, boots on the ground are needed. Rangers need the proper support necessary to perform optimally, which include support in and provision of:
- Reliable communication
- Secure power
- Clean water
- Ranger and community well-being
These targeted interventions of Lynne’s have transformed the well-being and operational capabilities of the rangers in the Zambezi Valley. This enables them to function effectively and supports their extraordinary work in conservation and on-going protection of threatened species.
Despite many odds against her, her personal safety at risk, limited funds, and other hardships, Lynne has endured and met every challenge head on. She continues to be a force for good in the Zambezi Valley and beyond.