THROUGH a collaborative effort with ER24, Jacaranda FM, CTM and medical supply company MedDev, 205 Kruger rangers, including section rangers and the Air Wing, underwent ER24’s Tactical First Aid Course.
This was part of the StopRhinoPoaching.com project and 145 specialised trauma packs kitted for managing gunshot wounds and heavy bleeding were deployed and each person on the course was given a tourniquet.
“For the first time ever, there is a tactical first aid capability across Kruger National Park. The first Kruger ranger was shot by poachers earlier this year. He and his fellow rangers had attended the ER24 course and as a result, knew how to manage the gunshot wound. The group had the right kit to do so, which saved the ranger’s life,” said founding director of StopRhinoPoaching.com, Elise Daffue.
StopRhinoPoaching.com, founded in 2010, initially meant to be an independent web-based platform dedicated only to raising much-needed awareness and support for the war against rhino poaching.
“I had a gnawing feeling for some time that there was something I was supposed to be doing to help rhinos. I just did not know what it was. After a particularly horrific poaching incident, the idea of the website hit me. At the time, there was little information available on rhino poaching and what was happening in South Africa. What started off as a web-based platform focusing on credible content and awareness, soon turned into a full-time responsibility of managing donations and supporting rhino reserves,” said Daffue.
All the organisation’s projects are focused on rhino protection, starting with the basics and then, helping to build capacity.
“For example, it does not help to buy specialised technology when rangers are not adequately trained or do not have basic equipment with which to work. It also does not help to spread assistance so thinly that it is rendered ineffective, which is why we carefully selected reserves that we support. For the most part, we keep channelling funds to these areas to make them a hard target,” said Daffue.
Daffue added that the organisation’s biggest strength lies in the fact that they have strong and trusted relationships with the majority of key rhino reserves and security initiatives around the country. “This network has meant that we have been able to support strategic requirements in these areas. We have a respected work ethic, an excellent understanding of the evolving poaching threat and we are informed about our selected stakeholder’s requirements. We have the ability to scale projects according to available funding through strategic partnerships and we have a quick turnaround time in putting tangible support on the ground,” she explained.
To date, StopRhinoPoaching.com has sponsored various types of training for more than 420 rangers and 50 reserve managers. A total of 29 rhino dogs have been deployed with another four currently being trained.
“We also do a lot of networking, relationship building and information sharing. One of the projects close to my heart is Project Embrace, a ranger wellness project that we are funding in the Kruger together with CTM and the International Rhino Foundation. We sponsor specialised psychological support for the rangers and their families, a critical intervention to curb stress levels and help prevent burn out,” said Daffue.
She added that rangers live with incredible stress, endure all kinds of hardships in the bush and sacrifice a great deal. Rangers have had to become soldiers, which is not what they originally signed up for when they chose a career in conservation, as a lot of the poaching groups now carry firearms.
“Rangers are the ones who stand between a rhino and a poacher and we need to be doing everything we possibly can to support them. They are doing their level best out there. Poaching, especially the cruelty and senseless killing, congers up all sorts of emotions. Doing this kind of work means that you do get emotionally involved. You give a lot of yourself and you grow close to the people who are out there fighting the fight every day.”
StopRhinoPoaching.com has channelled more than R12-million to the rhino cause, all made possible by donors.
“StopRhinoPoaching.com has had the pleasure of working with some incredible people and companies, all of them determined to help in some way. People have arranged sporting events and challenges while others have held office collections. Schools have run rhino projects and children have raised funds,” added Daffue.