Gyros for Rhinos
At dawn on the 10th of April six gyrocopters took to the African sky in a historic journey in support of an ancient animal. These small insignificant looking craft will attempt a huge feat of courage and endurance. Success in this effort will not only inspire South Africans, but also remind us that intimidating and seemingly insurmountable challenges can be overcome with the necessary courage and commitment.
The adventurers will attempt to be the first gyrocopter pilots to travel the entire length of the South African border in a single attempt. The journey of approximately 6 500 kilometres will start on the border with Mozambique in the Nwanetsi area of the Kruger National Park. For the next sixteen days they will travel the border, traversing parks such as Mapungubwe, Kgalagadi, Richtersveld, West Coast, Table Mountain, Agulhas, Garden Route and Addo National parks, ending up back in Kruger to complete their quest.
The aim of the event is to raise awareness of the plight of one of the world’s most threatened species. To date more than 200 rhino have been poached this year alone, following on the 668 of 2012. The seemingly unstoppable tide of brutal slaughter has left many people demoralised and cynical.
Despite this there is a committed core of people standing in support of our rhinos. In the South African National Parks, which is home to some seventy percent of the world’s remaining rhino population, rangers and counter poaching teams are fighting a daily war against the poachers. Each poaching victim is sadly felt, each arrest a victory celebrated. Despite the almost overwhelming numbers of poachers, the guardians are achieving significant successes and giving the rhino a fighting chance for survival.
The war cannot be won by these brave men alone. They need the support of the South African public and concerned people from across the globe. The South African National Parks Honorary Rangers movement offers the public the opportunity to make a real difference in the counter poaching effort.
“Gyros for Rhinos” team leader Tom Van der Meulen says ... "the gyronauts would like to encourage the public to support this effort by donating to the SANParks counter poaching effort. The SANParks Honorary Rangers is the preferred organisation for public donations towards counter poaching activities in our national parks. They work closely with the rangers to provide key support in the war against poaching."
The SANParks Honorary Rangers provide the funding for priority projects as identified by the counter poaching teams on the ground. Over the past four years they have provided seventeen million rand in support to the counter poaching effort via efforts such as Unite Against Poaching. They have sponsored rangers’ training and equipment. They have provided night vision, camouflage and GPS equipment. They have sponsored light airplanes and tracking dog teams.
Through the “Gyros for Rhinos” effort the public now has an opportunity to join in the next phase of deployment. Priority areas which now need funding include the establishment of more dog units and counter poaching teams, improved safety at entry points and improved air cover. To achieve this the Honorary Rangers will strive to raise at least another 10 million rand over the next year.
The SANParks Honorary Rangers movement is entirely volunteer run and therefore has the ability to guarantee that every sent raised will be used to support our rangers’ needs. No funds are used for other purposes such as administration or salaries.
An uncertain future awaits. But as long as there are committed people who are willing to face the challenge there is a good chance of success.
Follow the “Gyro for Rhinos” effort and the progress in the war on poaching at http://www.sanparksvolunteers.org/gyrosforrhinos
. Pumbe pan in Kruger NationalPark. On the Mozambique border and the start of the journey.