RCB is running for rhinos!

Linda Dickens, an experienced runner, booked her flights to the UK as soon as she was awarded one of RCB's places on the 2018 London Marathon

Linda Dickens, an experienced runner, booked her flights to the UK as soon as she was awarded one of RCB's places on the 2018 London Marathon

Four people are about to do something that’s either totally crazy or totally awesome, depending on your point of view. They’re going to run the Virgin Money London Marathon for Rhino Conservation Botswana (RCB) and for wild rhinos. 

These amazing people are Paul Swart, of RCB-USA and trustee of RCB (USA), Pierre Colin, an ardent support and donor to RCB (USA), and Linda Dickens (USA) and Jamie Barnes (UK), our new friends.

All are experienced athletes, but the marathon will be a whole new personal challenge for them. The race is 26.2 miles and takes place around the streets of London, culminating in the finish line in front of Buckingham Palace. A staggering 386,050 people applied to run the London Marathon next April, and RCB was awarded four charity places.

Pierre Colin (left) and RCB trustee and head of RCB-USA Paul Swart are running for rhinos

Pierre Colin (left) and RCB trustee and head of RCB-USA Paul Swart are running for rhinos

Linda said, “I’m running the London Marathon for RCB because I want future generations to be able to see wild rhinos for themselves, not just in zoos or in pictures.”

Pierre couldn’t agree more. He said, “My wife, Denise, and I support RCB’s work in Botswana to protect rhinos. What will the world be like if humans are responsible for the demise of wildlife that has been around for millions of years, before we even existed? We can’t let that happen!”

Paul, second from the left, gets to grips with a rhino during an RCB operation in Botswana

Paul, second from the left, gets to grips with a rhino during an RCB operation in Botswana

Paul cannot think of a more rewarding cause to run for. He has joined RCB on operations to fit rhinos with tracking devices – and knows that every penny raised will be put to preventing these incredible animals from going extinct.

Please support our runners directly on their fundraising pages – Linda's page, Paul and Pierre's page and Jamie’s page (to come). Every penny will go straight to RCB’s frontline conservation efforts to keep wild rhinos safe for the world.

Thank you from RCB – and the rhinos!

2017 – another great year for rhinos

Black rhino

Dear friends,
2017 has been a year of mixed fortunes for rhinos. Though RCB is achieving more for rhino conservation in Botswana than we ever thought possible, elsewhere the number of rhinos being killed is still alarmingly high.

That’s why RCB’s work in Botswana is more important than ever. For the rhinos’ security, I can’t share the number of young born this year, but we’re proud that Botswana’s rhino numbers are increasing steadily. When other populations are in decline, every precious rhino calf is a cause for celebration – and a vital contribution to the world’s population. 

Rhino calves born in Botswana add to the world's population

Rhino calves born in Botswana add to the world's population

Our success in growing Botswanas wild rhino population and keeping them safe is thanks to incredible people, like you, who support our work. Here’s just a few of the ways you’ve helped us make a difference this year...

Increasing our teams of monitoring officers
Thanks to the support of Fondation Segre in Switzerland, RCB has deployed six more handpicked and highly trained monitoring officers into the field. Each team has a specially modified 4x4 vehicle and all the gear required for extended periods tracking rhinos in the bush.

RCB rhino monitoring officers

Expanding our range of specialist vehicles
Men and machines working in the bush need fuel, information and backup. So, to get supplies out to teams in hard-to-reach areas, RCB has purchased a four tonne ex-military truck and a seven-metre, flat-bottomed boat. This remarkable truck can cross water that's about two metres deep and about 100 metres wide. Luckily, it’s specially equipped with an extended air snorkel and large wheels. During the wet season, when much of the land turns to water, the boat will enable us to keep moving despite the challenging conditions.

It’s also vital that we can support our ground-based monitoring teams with information from aerial patrols. So we were excited to purchase a light aircraft. The nimble little Aviat Husky will undertake monitoring patrols, search operations and aerial surveillance over the most remote areas of the delta. This combination of ‘eyes in the sky’ and ground tracking enables us to successfully locate the rhinos – and keep all the wildlife in the Delta safe from illegal activity.

We work closely with the Botswana Anti-Poaching Unit to keep our country's rhinos safe

We work closely with the Botswana Anti-Poaching Unit to keep our country's rhinos safe

Collaborating with other rhino conservation organisations
RCB’s strong partnerships with all parties involved in rhino and wildlife conservation in Botswana are already making a huge difference.

  • We’re assisting the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) and the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) to put patrols into the remote areas where they’re needed most, improving their coverage, efficiency and efficacy.
  • This year, we also helped President Khama and the DWNP with the translocation of four white rhinos from Khama Sanctuary to the newly created Sowa Conservation Park, where we hope numbers will build.
Rhinos are translocated to northern Botswana from areas of South Africa and Zimbabwe suffering from intense poaching pressure

Rhinos are translocated to northern Botswana from areas of South Africa and Zimbabwe suffering from intense poaching pressure

Helping to translocate rhinos
A cornerstone of RCB’s operational vision is cooperation. One of the highlights of 2017 has been the high level of collaboration among all the organisations and individuals involved in rhino conservation in Botswana, including the government and the private sector. 

This year, Rhinos Without Borders, a joint venture between tourism operators Great Plains and &Beyond, translocated 40 white rhinos to northern Botswana from South Africa, an operation assisted by RCB in Botswana. We also donated state-of-the-art tracking devices costing £34,685 ($46,373) for the translocated rhinos so we can track them on a daily basis. I’m pleased to report they’re doing well.

When Moratiwa and her calf Molly, two rare black rhinos, went walkabout and needed to be returned to safety, three cattle herders came to their rescue

When Moratiwa and her calf Molly, two rare black rhinos, went walkabout and needed to be returned to safety, three cattle herders came to their rescue

Keeping rhinos safe... and rescuing them when theyre in trouble

Several times a year, we fit new or replace the batteries in state-of-the-art tracking devices on our rhinos. These operations are very expensive, requiring the services of a veterinarian and a helicopter, but this is a vital aspect of our work. 

In May, I was overwhelmed when three local men working on a remote cattle outpost went beyond the call of duty to protect two of Botswana’s rare black rhinos. The men had never seen a rhino before, but when they spotted Moratiwa and her calf Molly far from home, they knew they were in trouble. One man, Robert Time, walked for 60km to reach a phone and call us.

I quickly scrambled everything we needed to capture the wandering rhinos and bring them back to safety. But afterwards we didn’t forget the rhinos’ new friends. A few weeks later, I flew back to thank and reward the cattle herders for their honesty and integrity.

You can read the whole incredible story in our news pages.

Map Ives speaks to local communities about rhinos on Kane Motswana's Walk for Rhinos

Map Ives speaks to local communities about rhinos on Kane Motswana's Walk for Rhinos

Involving the local community in rhino conservation
In November, I was privileged to take part in an pioneering community outreach programme called Walk For Rhinos organised by Kane Motswana. Kane is a member of the San, originally from the Gudigwa area of the northern Okavango, and a passionate, professional guide. He realised that he and other local people had a role to play in helping RCB to spread the word about Botswana’s precious rhinos.

Kane and his companions walked an incredible 470km through difficult bush terrain, visiting 16 villages along the northern and eastern fringes of the Okavango, to talk to local people at their traditional gatherings or ‘dikgotla’.

Engaging our international supporters
In May, I was kindly invited by Friends of RCB Switzerland to give a presentation to some of our most dedicated supporters in Basel. We had a wonderful evening and made some marvellous new friends, including Patrizia Keller. Patrizia generously donated a Toyota Land Cruiser truck from her farm in the Tuli Bloc here in Botswana, which will help our new Community Liaison Officer spread our message throughout the local area. 

Watch our website and social media for news of Map’s exciting US city lecture tour in autumn 2018.

Savas, our Belgian shepherd puppy, is growing up to be a superb tracking dog – and will be an important part of our new Dog Squad

Savas, our Belgian shepherd puppy, is growing up to be a superb tracking dog – and will be an important part of our new Dog Squad

Next year is shaping up to be RCBs most exciting year yet

2018 will see the launch of our community outreach and engagement programme. It’s well known that the communities who live closest to the wildlife must be part of any conservation solution. Our Community Liaison Officer will work to engage the communities in our rhino conservation and create opportunities for them to benefit from the rhinos’ presence. This will strengthen our surveillance of the rhinos and increase information-sharing to combat poaching.

As the pressure on Botswana’s wildlife increases, RCB will continue to help the government fight poachers. Next summer, two highly trained rhino protection dogs will join our monitoring teams and the government’s Anti-Poaching Unit on special patrols. They will be the first K9 (canine) team to work as ‘rhino guardians’ in Botswana. 

The dogs and their specialist training were kindly donated by the Real Africa Trust and Animals Saving Animals. We know that the creation of a specialist RCB Dog Squad will make it much harder for wildlife criminals to evade detection. There is no escaping the nose!

You can support our rhino protection dogs here.

Map Ives, RCB's director, is looking forward to 2018

Map Ives, RCB's director, is looking forward to 2018

The future
As we face the future, we know there will be challenges, but RCB is already making a significant difference to growing numbers of wild rhinos. None of this would have been possible without the support of our supporters around the world. Our mission has grown faster than I could ever have imagined. Today, it is of international importance.

I want to thank all of you who have helped us in so many ways, and express my gratitude to RCB's hard-working trustees and, of course, our esteemed Patrons, His Royal Highness Prince Harry and Environment Minister TK Khama, for their continued support. 

I wish all of you a great end of year break. I must also say thanks to all of our monitoring teams who will be on duty at this festive time of year. We are eternally grateful for their incredible loyalty and discipline. 

Onwards

Map Ives

RCB Director

 

RCB calls in the dogs to protect rhinos

This three-month-old Belgian malinois is part of the protection training programme with Animals Saving Animals. This dog is not one of RCB's pups – it's destined for rhino protection work in Zimbabwe

This three-month-old Belgian malinois is part of the protection training programme with Animals Saving Animals. This dog is not one of RCB's pups – it's destined for rhino protection work in Zimbabwe

Two very special puppies have been selected for a pioneering role with Rhino Conservatin Botswana (RCB). The malinois (or Belgian shepherd) pups will be the first canines to work as wildlife guardians in northern Botswana, helping to deter poachers and keep wildlife safe.

The pedigree puppies have just been born in Ireland. In October, they will travel to the West Midlands where their training will begin with Daryll Pleasants. Daryll is a former trainer of military dogs for the British Army and the founder of the charity Animals Saving Animals.

This malinois pup is learning how to scent track with its handler.

This malinois pup is learning how to scent track with its handler.

With Animals Saving Animals, RCB’s puppies will learn the same seek, find, detain and guard skills as other protection and detection dogs, but with extra twists designed to get them used to the sights and sounds of Africa, and wildlife crime work. These include visits to a local zoo to introduce the pups to rhinos, lions, elephants and other large and potentially dangerous African animals; helicopter flights, so that they can get to the scene of any crime quickly and leap into action, and snake-aversion training.

RCB’s Director Map Ives says: “The addition of these rhino protection dogs to our monitoring teams will greatly improve our ability to keep Botswana’s rhinos safe – and, ultimately, help to ensure the long-term survival of these wonderful creatures. Vigilance is key to stopping the illegal and senseless trade in rhino horn, and the recruitment of dogs to our team will greatly improve our levels of watchfulness.”

A scent trail is laid for the three-month-old malinois pups to follow, to fine tune their tracking skills.

A scent trail is laid for the three-month-old malinois pups to follow, to fine tune their tracking skills.

He added: “Malinois are ideal for this work – intelligent, loyal, agile, sturdy and, as protection services around the world will testify, equally able to track, detect, guard and apprehend. We’ve learned that one well-trained dog can cover as much ground in a night as eight officers, making it much harder for wildlife criminals to evade detection. And as news of the protection dogs’ arrival spreads, their presence across the Delta will be a powerful deterrent – sending out the message that Botswana’s rhinos now have canine guardians no poacher can escape.”

The cost of acquiring, training and equipping the dogs is being met by The Real Africa Trust, the charitable arm of the award-winning UK travel company Real Africa, which specialises in safaris.

The pups are taught to tackle criminals on command from a young age.

The pups are taught to tackle criminals on command from a young age.

Real Africa’s Sara White says: “We’re delighted to be able to donate these two highly-trained dogs to RCB to multiply their work force. Botswana has the best wildlife protection record in southern Africa, but anywhere that has rhinos will soon attract the unwanted attentions of poachers. These dogs will help RCB to be proactive in stamping out wildlife poaching before it can decimate rhino populations as it has done elsewhere in Africa.”

The final stage of the dogs’ training will see them transported to Botswana next summer, where they will acclimatise and meet the lucky RCB monitoring officers who will be their new handlers. The two teams will then train together before being despatched to the field.

An older dog is alert and ready for action. The dogs love their training and whimper with excitement as their training harnesses are put on.

An older dog is alert and ready for action. The dogs love their training and whimper with excitement as their training harnesses are put on.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

RCB will soon start fundraising to support our new Dog Squad. We need to build special kennels in Botswana to keep the dogs safe and cool. We also need to purchase stab-and bullet-proof armour to protect the dogs from unscrupulous poachers, and feed them on a high quality diet so they have plenty of energy for the job. Can you help?

Men rewarded for reporting rhinos to RCB

Thanks to the honesty of three men working on a remote cattle outpost, two of Botswanas rare black rhinos are safely back where they belong. Map Ives went to thank them...

This week, Rhino Conservation Botswana’s director Map Ives and Regional Wildlife Officer Tim Blackbeard visited a remote cattle post in Makgadikgadi Pans to personally thank three men for helping to protect two black rhinos.

Help protect rhinos and win a luxury safari, courtesy of Safari Footprints

RCB's friends at Safari Footprints are raising money to translocate a family of rhinos from poaching hotspots in South Africa to safer and more secure environments here in Botswana, where they will be well protected by RCB and the Botswana government.

The cost of moving one rhino is USD $45,000. To help raise the funds, Safari Footprints is raffling two breathtaking luxury safaris valued at USD 50,000 and USD 75,000 respectively.

Find out more...

Black rhino wanderers are safely returned: Part 1

Earlier this month, two black rhinos had to be rescued by RCB when they went ‘walk about’ in a potentially dangerous area...

When the quick-thinking security team at a remote outpost in northeast Botswana call the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) to say they have spotted a female black rhino and her large calf, Map Ives, RCB's director, sets about mobilising a team to bring these important animals back to safety – and fast!

RCB gets some hot new wheels!

Here at RCB in Maun, we’re very excited to have taken delivery of our new rhino monitoring vehicles. 

These sturdy trucks are specially adapted to cope with the unique challenges posed by the watery environment of the Okavango Delta – and fulfil their important mission: to keep Botswana’s rhinos safe.

So what makes these vehicles so special? Find out more here...

Video: RCB’s Map Ives talks rhinos with leading business magazine

RCBs Director Map Ives chats to Swedish journalist Mats Ögren Wanger from Veckans Affärer – Swedens leading business magazine – about protecting rhinos, joined-up thinking, ecotourism and the need for worldwide support.

“Innovation to me is to take an existing problem and look at it differently, with new eyes,” says Map, the brain behind the Botswana Government’s innovative approach to rhino conservation.

Find out more about the thinking behind RCB, the need to give black and white rhinos a safe haven from the poaching crisis – and how you can help.

Watch the video now.

RCB thanks special young fundraisers

RCB thanks special young fundraisers

Recently, we’ve been incredibly impressed to hear about the fundraising efforts of some of RCB’s youngest supporters.

Last year, three young rhino-lovers decided to do something to help Rhino Conservation Botswana (RCB) protect more wild rhinos in Botswana. After Halloween, nine-year-old Caylyn, Molly and Sadie had more sweets than they could possibly eat, so they decided to sell them to raise money for rhino conservation.

Prince Harry is our new Patron

Prince Harry is our new Patron

Rhino Conservation Botswana (RCB) is proud to announce that, today,  His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales becomes a Patron of RCB. He will add his voice to that of Botswana’s Honourable Minister Tshekedi Khama to help raise awareness of the plight of Africa’s black and white rhinos and inspire positive action.

The announcement comes after Prince Harry visited Botswana last September, when he joined Map Ives and Kai Collins in the Okavango Delta on a sensitive operation to fit state-of-the-art electronic tracking devices to critically endangered black rhinos.