The much-publicised plight of Africa’s rhinos is a daily concern. Poachers know no boundaries and more often that we’d like, reports are given of this scurge happening both in the Kruger National Park and in our adjacent reserve – the Sabi Sand Wildtuin.
Sabi Sabi has long been involved in anti-poaching efforts and we continue to do our part by committing massive resources each month to anti-poaching initiatives aimed at protecting the rhino, which is one of the iconic ‘Big 5’ for which the reserve is famed.
Local communities, from where so many of our staff hail, play a pivotal role in all aspects of Sabi Sabi life. A decision to actively engage the people of these nearby villages in the fight against rhino poaching became a reality recently with the launch of a community awareness programme aimed primarily at the local school children. A team of Sabi Sabi conservationists and staff visited the Hundzukani and Vuyalani Primary Schools in neighbouring Lillydale, much to the delight of the school goers. This included the provision of informative posters, a vibrant presentation and hard hitting message: Tourism provides the bulk of employment in the whole region. Tourists come to visit the Big 5 private game reserves which employ the children’s relatives. Without the Big 5, tourists will stop visiting, jobs will become scarce and everyone will suffer the consequences.
The children listened spellbound as the astonishing facts and figures were presented – the thought of a ‘no-rhino world’ that much more shocking given that the majority of families are somehow linked to the adjacent game reserves through employment or contracts.
The schools were addressed by our Safari Manager and the message was then translated to their home language by one of our rangers, interspersing the dialogue with funny anecdotes that had the children giggling, but in no way detracting from the seriousness of the topic. Safe ways of reporting suspicious activities were discussed and everyone was encouraged to spread the word further and engage within their communities to assist in turning the tide against poaching.
Several more workshops are planned within adjacent communities and there is ongoing internal training, arranged by our management team on site. Sabi Sabi is particularly grateful to long-time associate, Leon Boyd-Swartz, who was instrumental in hosting the Rhino Indaba at the lodges and creating the informative marketing material required for the community. We also extend our grateful thanks to Justin Hawes, from Scan Display, for donating all the printed material for this campaign.
The final message resonated with the children and all who were part of this initiative – ‘the poachers are strong and well organised but we are stronger and we will win this battle – there is no other option’.