CHRISTMAS 2023, A YEAR IN THE WATERBERG.
As the year draws to a close, the trustees of Waterberg Rhino are delighted to report that the charity has continued to expand its support for conservation and the community in the region. This is as a consequence of the £120,000 raised in the last 12 months, with huge thanks to your generous donations.
The year started with a full complement of riders on our annual fundraiser, RIDE FOR RHINOS. Three days of riding at Ant Africa Safaris was followed by 4 long, rewarding days, traversing the spectacular hills and plains of the region. Sightings on horseback of rhino, buffalo, giraffe and much more, culminated in a night camping under the African sky. We were lucky to be joined by filmmaker Harry Hough and photographer Andrew Yates who captured the whole adventure for us. Riders for 2024 are getting ready for the start of their adventure in January. If you would like to sign up for Ride for Rhinos, please do get in touch. Places are limited, with a waiting list for 2025 and booking for 2026.
Over 12 years of brutal rhino poaching has resulted in a disinvestment in the species, with the focus of funding being on security for protection of these vulnerable animals. It is therefore an inspiring and brave move to bring more rhino onto a reserve with the costs involved, yet one that Ant Africa Safaris was prepared to take to improve the genetics of its herd.
In March 2023, 3 rhinos cows were translocated, one of which was pregnant. Unfortunately, she was further on in her term than all realised and the journey brought on birth of her calf slightly prematurely. To ensure his survival, it was clear that he needed to be raised by hand, since his mother had no milk to give him. The decision to take a wild animal from its mother is never taken lightly. So we are thrilled to say that Tyson (so named after the ranger that found him) is now 8 months old, a 300kg powerhouse and enjoying life cared for by wildlife manager, Leanne Huber and her vet husband, Paul.
He now has a feisty ram, Starry, as companion with human interaction strictly limited, to enable his successful rewilding back on to the reserve. This will be a lengthy process demanding great patience. Over the past 8 months, your donations have covered his medical care and milk bills, and your ongoing support is much appreciated. It costs £250 a month minimum to feed this very special, ever-growing baby!
The fight against the criminal gangs that prey on rhinos and other wildlife requires the commitment of the whole community working together. In the last 12 months, Waterberg Rhino has directed over one million rand to install and update a network of ANPR cameras across the region. These act as an early-warning system to detect suspicious vehicles entering or exiting, the information being shared amongst the various security groups.
Alongside this, we have also funded the purchase of equipment and technology to improve the lives and capabilities of the rangers who put their lives on the line 24/7. The list includes night-vision goggles, thermal-imaging drone, uniforms, binoculars, mobile bush cameras, bullet-proof vests, medical leg-kits, military-grade boots and head torches. The charity has also provided funding for improved communication through internet and radio repeaters, all vital for the dangerous work of protecting rhino.
Winners of the inaugural WATERBERG RHINO FOOD GARDENS COMPETITION were announced in March after several months of assessing the best in several categories, including most improved, most sustainable and best lunch ladies.
The Scheme, in conjunction with Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, involves 16 gardens incorporating 14 schools, a clinic, and a village cooperative, providing extra nutrition for over 3000 children.
The competition was the inspiration of previous project manager, the late Daniel Mashasha, as a way of encouraging further engagement across the community. We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm shown in the photo updates and produce grown.
Winners received a cash prize in order to make improvements, while 60 children from the 3 winning schools, spent 3 days at the Lapalala Wilderness School (LWS), learning about the environment, team building and the importance of conserving rhino. LWS also ran a workshop for the garden volunteers who are so essential in maintaining the gardens.
At the time of writing, we are preparing for the 2024 Garden Competition, which will be launched in January.
After a visit by chair Belinda Chaffer to The Rhino Orphanage in January, it was clear that funding was required to help with the lack of power due to the load shedding situation in South Africa. There were severe gaps in the provision of electricity for fridges for medical supplies, heat lamps for the orphans and security overall. In April, we were able to help install a solar system which has resolved all these issues bringing a reliable source of electricity.
Furthermore, Waterberg Rhino, with support from Urban Rhino Gin, is installing a comms tower and repeater, which will guarantee consistent internet and radio signal, vital for the security and information to keep the rhino orphans safe.
If you have not heard already, Urban Rhino Gin has recently been relaunched by Pete Richardson, co-founder of the Orphanage and now owner of Urban Rhino. We are very proud of our association with this exciting brand, which has just won a Gold Medal, and hope you will all buy a bottle (or 2!) for Christmas.
Raising funds is paramount, yet the effective distribution of grants is key, incumbent on the trustees of Waterberg Rhino, who all have a great commitment to the region. In this regard, we would like to thank Waterberg resident, Jessica Babich, who acts as consultant and oversees all the projects on the ground, with huge enthusiasm and dedication.
We would also like to thank all of you, our donors and supporters, and in particular to the organisers of the Waterberg Rhino Golf Day, held at Bryanston Country Club, in Johannesburg.
We would like to thank Harry Hough, our ambassador, for all his hard endeavour in highlighting the work of the charity through his filmmaking.
Please SAVE THE DATE: Thursday 11 July, Waterberg Rhino Clay-Pigeon Team Event at E.J. Churchill's, West Wycombe
If you would you would like to donate to the upcoming Ride for Rhinos or the Tyson fund, here are the links.
Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.
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