The African Rhino Community Centre
The ARCC strategy secures the future of wild rhino by facilitating collaboration, cooperation and coordination between stakeholders and participants in rhino conservation in the Eastern Cape. There are six primary areas of response and investment required.
Located in the middle of the Eastern Cape protected wildlife areas with access directly off the N2 highway, the ARCC is ideally placed to serve as a focal point for meetings of stakeholders for:
- the collation and distribution of anti-poaching information,
- research and development of veterinary, ecological management, technological and socio-economic approaches to rhino and wildlife conservation,
- education and awareness workshops
Given the diverse communications and logistical facilities available in the ARCC, it has an important role in providing administrative support to partner organisations and projects in the region.
The ARCC enhances the security of private and state wildlife reserves by creating a series of Intensive Protection Zones (IPZs) by investing in :
• additional, professionally trained manpower;
• basic transport and field operations equipment,
• inter-platform communications between ground teams, IPZs and involved organisations;
• surveillance aircraft for various air support and ecological management roles;
• tracker dog units to follow up on breaches of reserve borders and incidents of poaching;
• Horseback units to provide greater mobility on patrols and pursuit,
• technology, (satellite tracking collars, night vision cameras and binoculars, drones and directional monitors)
• intelligence data collection, analysis and distribution on a multi-agency platform.
3. Rhino management
ARCC is introducing a programme of enhanced wild rhino breeding within the Intensive Protection Zones (IPZs).
This involves finding optimal population age and sex structures within the dictates of social behaviour, territoriality and ecological carrying capacity of the habitat.
The success of this concept depends on intensive ecological and veterinary management and research. ARCC has negotiated with international veterinary schools and veterinary practices to establish a Wildlife Veterinary Centre of Excellence (WVCoE) run by Dr William Fowlds
The WVCoE provides the opportunity to link ecological and behavioural research with veterinary investigation into the physiology and disease threats of the species further improving the likelihood of optimised breeding rates.
4. Rural Communities
The African Rhino Conservation Centre (ARCC) supports the socio-economic development of rural communities, enhancing community support and participation in the benefits of ecosystem and wildlife conservation.
Participation by the rural communities of Africa in wildlife conservation efforts is critical for the future of African wildlife. In many remote areas of Africa rural people live subsistence lives in close proximity to wildlife, sharing their land and living space with animals that frequently conflict with their agricultural and pastoral enterprises, not to mention threaten their lives. Developing systems whereby rural communities are protected and benefit directly from the conservation of wild places and wildlife has become a cornerstone of conservation strategy.
In South Africa, and in particular in locations like much of the Eastern Cape, the rural areas, in which private and State game reserves have been established, are home to communities that are frequently semi-urban and excluded from interaction with wildlife by animal-proof fencing. Nevertheless, their support for and participation in wildlife conservation, and the tourism industry that is integral to conservation, is equally vital to the long term survival of these reserves and the ecosystems they protect.
As a pilot project, the ARCC has conducted an investigation into the nature and size of rural communities related to local wildlife areas, whether directly as game reserve employees and their families.We are currently forming a Community Wildlife Trust in which the local community are able to participate, directly benefit and actively support wildlife conservation.
It is vital that the scale, nature and socio-economic implications of the crisis of poaching and illegal use and trafficking of rhino is understood and communicated to the world.
In addition to promoting widespread public awareness, the ARCC also promotes awareness among influencers in the principle source and consumer countries, including :
• governments and international development agencies;
• international funding sources, state and private;
• local community leaders, rural and urban; and
• the young generation of future leaders.
The ARCC communications platform includes:
- multi-media technologies providing data and visual material to educational institutions;
- private initiatives aimed at demand reduction and attitude adaptation in consumer markets,
- awareness campaigns run by partner organisations.
At a local level ARCC cooperates with and supports organisations such as the Amakhala Foundation; the Ubunye Foundation and the C4C programme of environmental education through sport. The intention is to increase the participation of ARCC in environmental education and in supporting vocational training in fields related to wildlife conservation and wildlife-based tourism.
6. Law enforcement
ARCC aims to contribute to the improvement and enhancement of intelligence gathering, database management and coordinated dissemination of such information on a multi agency platform, thereby aiding the apprehension and successful prosecution of criminal syndicate leaders.