Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Specialised aircraft joins fight to save SA’s rhinos

This was announced by the South African National Parks (SANParks) on Tuesday.

SANParks chief executive David Mabunda said the aircraft would be used in operations against rhino poachers.

"The people making the money are syndicates and we must go after them. We need all the resources we can get."

He said the advantage provided by the plane, which was donated by the Ichowitz Foundation and the Paramount Group, would have come too late if it was procured through the usual government processes.

"We will not win this war just with the rangers with meagre resources … Do you know how difficult it is to get money from treasury for an effort like this?" Mabunda asked.

"It takes a lot of memorandums and a lot of bureaucracy and by the time money is allocated … there will be no rhino left."

He was speaking at a media briefing at the unveiling of the aircraft atSkukuza airport in the Kruger National Park.

Private sector assistance 
Mabunda said partnerships with the private sector were needed as the government faced many service delivery problems and could not devote resources to fighting poaching when they were needed elsewhere.

"The cause of the rhino will rank very low in the priority of government. That is a reality."

South Africa is home to almost 80% of the world's rhino and represents the last, viable population.

He said most of these rhino lived in the Kruger National Park, which represented a "critical mass" in rhino poaching.

"Not only is the Kruger National Park home to the largest population of rhinos in the world, this national park also remains the hardest hit by poaching."

The park had lost 760 of the 1369 rhino killed since January 2010.

Mabunda said the aircraft would first be deployed in the park before being used in other national parks.

"It's critical we stem the tide in Kruger before we deploy it to other areas," he said.

The specially-outfitted Seeker Seabird, has a single propeller in its midsection and a small cabin for two personnel.

It is painted in blue camouflage, the better to blend in with the sky when viewed from the ground.

On its dashboard, in homage to its mission, is a small, stuffed rhino.

The aircraft was able to fly slowly and had surveillance capabilities in the form of a camera fitted to its body. It could accommodate a human spotter. – Sapa

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and receive a 40% discount on our annual rate..

Kenichi Serino
Kenichi Serino works from Saint Kitts and Nevis. I edit a newspaper in the Caribbean. South Africa-US, before. Words: @ajam, @ReutersAfrica, @theAtlantic, etc. Mentor: @AspenNewVoices. Migrant Worker Kenichi Serino has over 1383 followers on Twitter.

Related stories


Subscribers only

NW Premier Mokgoro ‘meddles’ in contentious R1.5m HOD appointment

Provincial HOD hired despite implication in ‘jobs-for-pals’ probe involving former minister Faith Muthambi

Wild garlic harvesters back in court

Healers say the plant is part of their heritage, but officials counter that it is a protected species

More top stories

Public works tables ‘solutions’ to botched Beitbridge border fence tender

Scopa ‘disappointed’ by slow pace and lack of consequences on Beitbridge irregularities.

ANC resolute over its step-aside decision: Duarte

The governing party has identified 40 members charged with serious crimes who will have to step aside

New Covid-19 variant in South Africa ‘of concern at a...

The Covid-19 B.1.617 variant, first detected in India, is now listed as one of concern, but the World Health Organisation says it does not doubt the efficacy of global vaccines

Your guide to side effects: What you can expect after...

Soon, South Africa will start with its mass vaccine roll-out. We take a look at what to expect when you get vaccinated.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…