The Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA) are committed to protecting animals and their habitats for future generations and through the ZSEA Conservation Fund, have donated £25,000 to ‘Save the Rhino International’ to support vital rhino conservation in Africa.
The funds raised by ZSEA have been channelled directly to the rhino project based in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP), South Africa. This Park is the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa and is renowned worldwide for being the historical home of the Southern white rhino.
The £25,000 donated by ZSEA will be used to fund the fuel and maintenance of the Savannah light aircraft, which helps rangers patrol Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. This vital piece of equipment allows rangers to respond to incidents quickly and provides support to on the ground efforts.
Gary Batters, Director of Zoo’s for ZSEA, said: “Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with a good number of rhinos in various zoos, they are magnificent and, despite their reputation, very gentle animals. It is a tragedy that they are so threatened in the wild. It gives the staff at ZSEA enormous pleasure to be able to support such great conservation work.”
Throughout 2019 there were a number of fundraising events which took place to help raise the £25,000 donation made by ZSEA. Staff at Africa Alive! and their friends took on the big “Three Peaks Challenge” and walked each of the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales all in just 36 hours. Visitors, ZSEA volunteers and supporters also helped raise funds by participating in Africa Alive!’s annual “Walk for Wildlife”, a 5km walk around the zoo, and a Rhino Conservation Evening was also held with a fascinating talk about rhino conservation from Cathy Dean, the CEO of Save the Rhino International.
In response to ZSEA’s donation, Cathy Dean stated: “The Zoological Society of East Anglia’s Conservation Fund is playing a fantastic part in supporting aerial surveillance efforts over Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in South Africa. The recently released statistics for 2019 show that although overall rhino poaching numbers in South Africa decreased, as compared with previous years, it is still a major threat. KwaZulu-Natal Province, which includes Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, lost 133 rhinos to poaching in 2019, down from 142 in 2018. ZSEA’s very generous grant of £25,000 is funding fuel and maintenance for the Savannah light aircraft to enable the ‘eyes in the sky’ so vital for rapid response follow-up to reports of poaching incidents. In addition, the plane is used for rhino monitoring, for flying routine deterrent aerial patrols, and to help search for any predators that have escaped through the fence into neighbouring community-owned land. Without these layers of support, we suspect the situation in the Park would be much worse.”