Johannesburg — South Africa’s rhinos have already reached a crucial tipping point, due to the surge in poaching since 2008, conservationist Dr Ian Player said on Wednesday.
“The red warning flags are up and anything could happen,” he said at a Durban event held by KwaZulu-Natal’s Ezemvelo Nature Reserve to explain the success rate of helicopters in rhino conservation.
A three-seater Sikorsky 300-helicopter was made available to the reserve five months ago by Vincent Christoforous, CEO of King Shaka Aviation in Durban, Beeld reported.
Since then, the helicopter had helped Ezemvelo’s anti-poaching unit track down at least 28 vehicles which were in the reserve illegally, and had helped to locate 10 armed men.
During the same period, only one rhino was killed by poachers in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi reserve, compared to nine during the same period the previous year.
If a meaningful impact was to be made in the fight against rhino poaching, sponsorships of between R4 million and R5m would be required to man four or five helicopters in the province.