In a collaboration led by Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, with generous support from its donors, and Wilderness Safaris have contributed to the funding of the most recent rhino conservation operation in the country, bringing together ecotourism companies, NGOs and government to continue the vital work of monitoring and conserving Botswana’s precious rhino population.
“Wilderness Safaris’ aim has always been to restore and conserve thriving populations of both black and white rhino in Botswana. With funding from the Wilderness Wildlife Trust and on the ground support that we provide, and the unique collaboration of private and governmental enterprise, this vision continues to be sustainable”, said Kim Nixon, Wilderness Safaris Botswana MD.
This latest operation involves darting rhino for the purpose of ear notching, DNA collection and transmitter fitting, so that the animals can be tracked and kept safe. The core team on the ground comprises veterinarians, capture personnel and pilots from DWNP, Rhino Conservation Botswana (RCB), Rhinos Without Borders (RWB) and the Botswana Defence Force. The Wilderness Wildlife Trust was able to contribute all the required flight time and veterinary drugs, as well as logistical support from Wilderness Safaris camps and dedicated rhino monitoring teams.
The operation takes place with speed and precision. Once a rhino is located by a fixed-wing aircraft, it is darted from a helicopter, and the ground team and veterinarians move in quickly to notch the ear, collect a DNA sample and fit a tracking device. The veterinarians are helicopter based, whilst the ground teams are equipped with all the necessary ropes, water, drills and drill bits, acrylic and other items required to fit transmitters. This group is assisted by government officials and nearby lodges, as well as by local Wilderness Safaris, RWB and RCB teams.