Did you know that no matter where you are in the world, a rhino affects your daily life?

This is because rhino horn trafficking is linked with the 4 major black market crimes in the world. These are weapons, drugs, the illicit wildlife trade and human trafficking.

In the last year alone, the black market trade in wildlife trafficking was valued at over $43 billion!

Coupled with consumption of powdered horn, rhino horns are used as currency and status symbols that fuel these global issues. Horns can buy guns. Horns can buy drugs. Horns are worth more than gold or platinum.

By supporting this project and helping us to protect rhinos into the future, you will be helping yourself too. By reducing the desire for rhino horns, this will decrease the poaching. This, in turn, will help reduce currency that supports global crimes.

The poaching scourge took reserves, national parks and conservationists by surprise for both its swiftness and brutality. The response is largely reactive as opposed to proactive with operations focussed “on the ground”.

Many good men and women have lost their lives trying to protect these animals.

In the last few years tech has been added to the fight.

Science could be the game changer.

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The vision of this project is to place radioisotopes into the horn of a rhino.
Not only does this act as a deterrent on the ground, but is envisaged that this well help to significantly lower demand reduction. It will also help ports and border authorities to find hidden stashes of horn – and potentially other smuggled wildlife items as well.

Traffickers don’t just move one illicit substance at a time. Having irradiated materials as part of their black market cargo puts the whole shipment at risk, moving them from being traffickers to terrorists.

This means that if caught with a shipment of rhino horns with radioisotopes, the traffickers will be in contravention of international terrorism laws, making them easier to prosecute – and for the prosecutions to stick.

Traditional anti-poaching methods are still not enough and even though trade in rhino horn is illegal and banned internationally, there are many countries that drive the illicit sale of horn, such as Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Croatia and North Korea to name a few.

It is no secret that poaching is a poverty driven crime. Poachers come from the poorest of the poor and a cash amount to kill an animal seems like a king’s ransom and worth the risk for many.

Rhinos saving people and people saving rhinos is the vision that the Rhisotope team fully stand behind and believe in.

This will be achieved by introducing sustainable community and school projects, as well as primary healthcare support projects, that will directly benefit for communities near surrounding reserves.

All in the name of rhinos.

Community and social upliftment

If communities receive and feel the benefits of having rhinos in their region, they will be less inclined to poach – and rather protect the species.

If the benefits of a living rhino outweigh the benefits of a dead one, then a significant part of the battle will be won.

Community and social upliftment can come in many forms.

The Rhisotope Project has two phases of community support programmes currently underway.

Current donor funding is enabling Phase 1 – the installation of two aquaponics projects in Eastern Cape communities. One is at the Amakhala Environmental Centre and the other is at a local community cooperative.

Thanks to working with wonderful partners, the aquaponics project also includes training and support for the project participants for at least a year.

Produce grown will be able to feed children and adults, as well as open up opportunities for sales of produce. This encourages business and entrepreneurial development, not to mention the skills upliftment and green economy opportunities.

These projects are currently in the research and development phase, with a view to beginning installation of the units in mid-June.

The big launch is due to happen on Mandela Day 2021.

Watch this space…

Phase 2 is to work with Dept of Health in the Eastern Cape to bring in desperately needed support for primary health care.

Discussions are currently underway with the Dept of Health.

The vision is to supplement current healthcare activities through a privately funded mobile clinic support service that will work in collaboration with and endorsement of the Dept of Health.

  • Services that will be provided include:
    Increased access to essential health services in remote area;
  • Chronic medication distribution support (act as a CCMDD site and working with the HPRS system);
  • Blood testing;
  • Pre and post natal support;
  • General medicine distributions and healthcare support.

Primary recipients of this health care support will be reserve staff and communities that live directly alongside conservation areas.

The clinic will become a mobile rhino ambassador in and of itself – and will be able to access thousands of people every year.

The health care support unit will include a well structured rhino awareness module that will be shared with adults and children who interact with the clinic.

This will include aspects such as branded materials and take-away items, ensuring that the rhino discussions continue long after the clinic support service has done its rounds on any given day.

It is the vision of the Rhisotope team to take these and other projects into other provinces as well.