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Project Skywards

A funding initiative for the SANParks Airwing with emphasis on the Aircraft Capability, Logistical and Fuel requirements for Wildlife Management and Conservation Activities...

Collected Amount:R80,200

Required Amount:R19,000,000

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About this Cause

The SANParks Air-wing in conjunction with the various other Anti-Poaching teams, Special Rangers, the SANDF and the SAPS have evolved into a focused and dedicated Anti-Poaching Support and Anti-Poaching Response role in the Kruger National Park. This shift in operations and increased demand for Dedicated Aerial Support presents a major strain and unique logistical and financial challenges to the SANParks Air-wing team. The Helicopter fleet have doubled in size from 2 aircraft to 4 aircraft. Annual flight hours for the SANParks fleet have increased substantially per aircraft with an associated increase in fuel costs, maintenance costs, flight crew, ground support and logistical support.

The SANParks Air-wing are deployed daily in various supporting roles, specialised operations and aerial support:

  • Anti-poaching aerial support and reaction
  • Conservation and research projects
  • Disaster/flood-relief assistance
  • Emergency evacuations
  • Game capture operations
  • Veterinary wildlife operations

The main financial challenges faced by the SANParks Air-wing unit are the acquisition costs of aircraft, fuel and fuel logistics and maintenance support costs.

The main financial challenges faced by the SANParks Airwing unit are the acquisition costs of aircraft, fuel and fuel logistics and maintenance support costs.

  • Aircraft acquisition costs for the AS350B3 / H125 helicopter, basic version amounts to approximately R33,000,000.00 per aircraft.
  • A fully equipped aircraft for special operations, i.e. night vision equipment compatibility, external sling load provisions etc. amounts to approximately R 45,000,000.00 per aircraft.
  • Based on an average of 500 flight hours per annum each aircraft will require an average Operating Budget of R4,750,000.00 to ensure the aircraft serviceability, operational availability and safety.
  • Based on 500 flight hours per annum each aircraft will require 90,000 liters of Jet A1 Aviation fuel. A total fuel expense of R1,800,000.00 per aircraft per annum (this fuel cost is included in the above Operational Cost).

The total SANParks helicopter fleet operating costs amounts to R19,000,000.00 (excluding crew, insurance and fixed overhead costs).


The Adopt-a-Chopper initiative will give companies, private individuals or organisations the opportunity to “adopt” one of the SANParks Air-wing helicopters for a year. The funds raised through this initiative will be applied to the direct operating costs of these aircraft. This will ensure operating capital for fuel, lubricants and maintenance to ensure the aircraft remains available and active for critical SANParks operations.

As part of the initiative each individual, company or organization will have the opportunity to have their logo / company name / slogan displayed on their adopted aircraft for the duration of the adoption.

The individual, company or organization will be presented with a scale replica of the adopted aircraft and will be allowed access to the aircraft for photographs and should operations allow to join the aircraft on an operational sortie. These sorties will be limited to non-critical flights i.e. game capture or similar operations. Aircraft utilization, success stories and events will be communicated to the “Parent” organization periodically throughout the adoption period.

Adoption Options (per aircraft)

  1. Option 1: Fuel and lubricants – R1,800,000.00 per annum
  2. Option 2: Fuel, lubricants and maintenance – R3,400,000.00 per annum
  3. Option 3: Full aircraft adoption – R4,750,000.00 per annum

View more information on the various adoption options