For the past eight years, the Volkswagen (VW) Amaroks have driven more than one million kilometres protecting South Africa’s rhino population through a sponsorship from VW Commercial Vehicles South Africa.
In that time, though, a total of 7 720 rhinos had been poached in South Africa. Last year alone, an average of two rhinos were poached every day; VW Commercial Vehicles has therefore renewed its sponsorship and support of the Wilderness Foundation Africa’s fight against rhino poaching.
“The rhino plays a key role in the ecosystem and is also pivotal for our country’s eco-tourism. South Africa has the biggest concentration of rhino in the world, which we want to protect and preserve for generations to come and it is this reason that Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles made a decision back in 2011 to support Wilderness Foundation Africa’s anti-poaching activities,” says Andile Dlamini, head of Volkswagen Group South Africa communications.
The foundation’s Forever Wild Rhino Initiative provides logistical and operational support for conservation and law enforcement agencies responsible for rhino management and security. It is also involved in raising public awareness of the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa, managing a rhino anti-poaching tip off hotline as well as managing and implementing a rhino horn demand reduction campaign in Vietnam.
Additional key activities of the Forever Wild Rhino Initiative include vehicle support, rhino rescue support, dog support, air support, intelligence gathering and specialist support, rhino syndicate investigations and Eastern Cape Rhino DNA collection.
The R2 million annual sponsorship sees six Amaroks being used for on-the-ground protection of rhino populations, rhino and wildlife crime syndicate investigation support, rhino DNA collection, air support for rhino security and rhino monitoring, supporting of K9 units, treating rhino that have survived poaching incidents, education and awareness of the rhino poaching crisis and education of the youth from communities surrounding game reserves.
This year, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will also be supporting Wilderness Foundation Africa’s Rhino Horn Demand Reduction Campaign. This campaign aims to reduce the demand for rhino horn in Vietnam, which is one of the largest end-markets of illegal rhino horn.
Wilderness Foundation Africa has been working with the youth in Vietnam since 2014 and this year 14 Vietnamese youth will be travelling to South Africa to take part in wilderness trails and workshops in Mfolozi Game Reserve.