Friday, 02 June 2023


Educate & Inform

No expense was spared in trying to save Absa’s life, he fought to live, but succumbing to his injuries five days later. Looking back, invaluable lessons have been learnt which have driven our fight to save Africa’s rhinos. As hardy as these magnificent wild animals may appear, they are extremely sensitive and incapable of protecting themselves against highly specialised poachers. We believe these people are associated with the wildlife and conservation industry and/ or have military training and can carry out these types of operations while equipped with thermal and/ or night vision devices. They are armed with dart guns with access to highly restricted sedation drugs, chain saws, and have the skills required to operate within a 7 500 hectare game reserve, in between anti-poaching security teams. Poachers favour using drugs instead of the bullets that would be heard by the reserve’s security.

Vets – whether domestic or wildlife – probably only deal with such atrocities once or twice in their career. Many of the rhinos survive attack, only to be euthanised due to lack of effort, expense, equipment and experience required to save them. These factors made us realise how our rhinos are rendered helpless in their fight to survive and how private game reserves are vulnerable to attacks.

The attack on Aquila’s rhinos, and South Africa’s losing battle to protect our wildlife, has led to the formalisation of the Saving Private Rhino initiative.

This rhino-poaching incident elicited thousands of Facebook, Twitter, SMS and e-mail communications. For the first time, we saw how viral communication took this awareness from the rural area of Touws River to the rest of South Africa, and internationally to the United States, Australia and Europe, uniting ordinary people in support of the plight of Africa’s rhinos. No longer is it industry people and their associates who are concerned, the support, efforts, donations, awareness and goodwill from everyone from businesses to the general public has been overwhelming and is a driving force to establish our initiative. Within two weeks of this incident, some R250 000 has been pledged and received from around the world without any planned campaign. For this, Aquila wants to thank everyone for their support and affirm our commitment to seeing this initiative through.

"I cannot explain the emotions one feels when you hear the human like cries of pain from an adult male rhino that I once nurtured to make sure he would adapt well to the Aquila environment. Helpless and desperate feelings are motivating me to fight back. I will utilise my extensive experience in the security industry to ensure the deaths of our two rhinos are not in vain. ‘Saving Private Rhino's’ efforts will save the lives of many rhinos. I believe that every rhino in the world has a dart or bullet with its name on it! The odds lie with the poachers and not with the security teams, who are there to protect our rhino." - Searl Derman, CEO Aquila Private Game Reserve