Today is World Rhino Day and an excellent opportunity to celebrate all you’ve helped us to achieve since this time last year. Here’s are some of our greatest moments from the past 12 months…
1 We were invited to the wedding of the century
Our director Map Ives and Botswana Trustee Kai Collins were lucky enough to receive two of the hottest tickets in the world when they were invited to the wedding of our royal patron, HRH Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. So began one of the busiest media weeks in RCB’s history. Map appeared on a Canadian news programme, on BBC One’s live coverage of the wedding (here he is, chatting to Anita Rani) and on CNN talking about The Duke’s patronage of RCB. He also won the grand title of ‘Beard of the Wedding” from commentator Huw Edwards!
2 Our monitoring officers excelled themselves
Our monitoring officers are the best in Botswana, operating to the highest standards with unparalleled dedication and determination. In 12 months, they cover on average 33,331km in vehicles and on foot, clock up 3,270 monitoring hours over 593 monitoring days, record detailed descriptions of over 859 different rhino sightings, and every team tracks down on average 1.5 rhinos each day. We’re so proud of them!
3 We brought home every rhino that wandered off
Our rhinos love the fresh green growth that comes with a spot of rain. It gives them itchy feet and they start to roam, particularly younger individuals about four to seven years old. This is perfectly natural, but sometimes rhinos wander a bit too far away from our ‘core zone’ for comfort. They may even move into areas that are not as safe as we would like. So when this happens, we send veterinarians, helicopters, huge trucks and rhino crates to wherever the rhinos are roaming to capture them and bring them home again.
4 We got a new toy to help watch over our rhinos
In November, we became the proud owner of a shiny new Aviat Husky A-1C plane. This versatile and nimble little aircraft is specially designed for getting in and out of hard-to-access places, so it's perfect for helping us to monitor rhinos that sensibly like to live somewhere totally inaccessible by vehicle. There is no escaping the eyes in the skies when it comes to keeping Botswana’s rhinos safe.
5 We cheered on our amazing supporters
Four of our fittest and most fantastic supporters ran the Virgin Money London Marathon 2018 for RCB and for wild rhinos – and we were with them (almost) every step of the way. Paul Swart and Pierre Collins (above), Linda Dickens and Jamie Barnes exceeded all expectations when they finished the 26.2 mile race around the streets of London on one of the hottest days of the year. And we were there, at mile 23, to cheer them to the finish line.
6 We went high tech to spy on our rhinos and keep them safe
We started working with Oxford University’s WildCRU and the Born Free Foundation’s Remembering Rhinos initiative to increase our rhinos’ security. The three-year Okavango Delta Carnivore Survey is helping us to monitor the rhinos’ health and movements, while the installation of an intelligent network of 50 state-of-the-art camera traps will help us to maintain constant surveillance of areas where there is a risk of conflict with people.
7 We launched our community upliftment programme
Our new community development programme assists local women living in extremely rural areas in the Okavango Delta to develop new sustainable livelihoods – to support themselves, their families and their communities. Our ‘Women for Rhinos’ groups are given sewing machines and materials, and taught to produce quality artisanal crafts that RCB helps the ladies to sell.
8 We began teaching local children to value nature
We rolled out Environmental Clubs in five primary schools in the area. The clubs educate young people about their local wildlife and the importance of protecting the environment. They create learning opportunities that help young minds to grow in fun and creative ways (don’t miss your free rhino tracking board game). And they will soon take school groups into local national parks to see Botswana’s most amazing wildlife for themselves.
9 We created employment for young men and women
Our new ‘Community Mobilisers’ scheme employs local young people to support our outreach activities in their communities. They get people talking about conservation, support our women’s groups, watch for bush fires, organise our play days for toddlers and run our feeding scheme for under-nourished children whose parents have to work in the city.
We’re also creating opportunities for the many young people who are unemployed in rural villages around the Okavango Delta by training and equipping them to maintain the buffalo or veterinary fence, a vital barrier between wildlife and cattle.
10 We hatched an ambitious plan to build a Rhino Education Centre
RCB is planning to build a Rhino Education & Visitor Centre in the centre of Maun. The Centre will house RCB’s headquarters and provide a vital space where everyone involved in protecting Botswana’s rhinos can come together to plan joined-up conservation activities. It will also serve as a facility to educate, inform and inspire local communities, school children and tourists. We can’t wait.
As you can see, we’ve been really busy since the last World Rhino Day. None of this would have been possible without you, our incredible supporters. Please help us to keep protecting Botswana’s rhinos so that, long term, rhinos might beat extinction. Please donate whatever you can today. Every penny goes to the projects listed above.