Rhinos Without Borders is a partnership between Great Plains Conservation and AndBeyond to move 100 rhinos from the highest poaching zones in South Africa, to the lowest poaching zones in the whole of Africa, Botswana, to save them from the poaching crisis. It will be a modern day Noah's ark for rhino genes and we hope that this seed population will increase in size and have a positive impact on the rhino population, which is currently in deficit with more rhinos dying than are currently being born. Once the rhinos reach Botswana they will be protected by anti-poaching teams, who will also protect other species in the process. When we fight for rhinos we fight for all wildlife in Africa, and when we take on a project to protect rhinos, we do so with the intention to create a protective umbrella for all wildlife in these wilderness areas.
The first ten were released on April 28, after touching down in the largest aircraft ever to land at Botswana's Maun International Airport, according to Dereck Joubert, one of the project's leaders. Getting the rhinos from the airport to deep into the Okavango Delta was no easy task. Already packed in crates, the rhinos were loaded onto trucks and escorted by 60 soldiers, to deter potential poachers.
Along the way, a wheel came off one of the trucks and the two-ton rhinos had to be moved into another truck via crane. The convoy had to cross several rivers, while a helicopter was sent ahead to scout for poachers. The heat was a relentless 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius), which meant the team had to make sure the animals didn’t overheat. By sundown, the rhinos were released into their new homes, less than 24 hours from the start of their journey from the staging area in an undisclosed part of South Africa. There, the rhinos had been monitored for disease for six weeks and fitted with microchips to monitor their locations. But under the watchful eye of the Botswana military, the rhinos “finally ran free,” says Dereck Joubert.
The relocation process is expensive, about $45,000 per rhino, but Rhinos Without Borders has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from supporters and will soon be moving more rhinos. The ultimate goal is to help Botswana achieve its national goal of having a herd of 400 rhinos by 2020.
YTP is proud to partner with Rhinos Without Borders and assist them with their fundraising necessary to accomplish the lofty goals that they have set forth. Our goal as an organization is to raise US$45,000 by December 31st 2015. This would fund the relocation and protection of a rhino and go a long way in securing the survival of this incredible species.
We urge you, the YTP community, to contribute towards this noble cause between now and the end of the year. The YTP chapter that raises the most money towards our $45,000 goal will have the privilege of naming the rhino that we help save!
*Cover photo by Beverly Joubert