September 22 was World Rhino Awareness Day, a sadly necessary event that aims to bring attention to the suffering of rhinos as individuals and a species as a result of illegal hunting. Conservation groups in South Africa are working to inform government leaders about this ongoing problem and the need to be much tougher on poachers.
The Shamwari Game Reserve and the Born Free foundation ran a joint awareness-raising project in schools, entitled ‘Make Noise for the Rhino’.
Student volunteers from the reserve were each teamed up with a class of children in a local school, and given the task of informing the pupils about this crucial issue. They had a full morning to create an awareness-raising sign or campaign, and the results became part of the street display when the groups went on to carry out a march to raise public consciousness.
With plenty of colour and noise, including whistles, rhino masks, painted faces and posters, everyone involved was in high spirits and we hope that a good amount of awareness was raised that day. All parties appeared to have a lot of fun, too!
Back at the reserve itself, our heroic staff have been looking out for our rhinos with a keen eye – in one case quite literally. This is the time of year when the animals are counted, which is done from the air, by helicopter, as this is the clearest way to see them all.
This time round, special attention was being given to finding one individual young black rhino that had not been sighted recently and needed to be found.
With a team of vets and keepers on the ground, ready to get to the rhino as soon as she was darted, the helicopter surveyed the grounds and eventually found her.
The work had to be done very quickly, as the rhino’s mother would be looking for her, so this was a high-adrenaline operation for all involved. Luckily all went smoothly, and the rather disgruntled rhino was awoken and released.
In other reservation news, the new bridge is progressing well: foundations have been laid on both sides and the body is currently being built – this is great news as once the bridge is completed, that stretch of road will be fully functional and the part of the reserve that it leads to will be easily accessible. So things are looking good all round at the Shamwari nature reserve.