The MyPlanet Rhino Fund was established in April 2011 with just 15 supporters and raised R83.00 in its first month. Now seven years later it has raised over R9,7 million for rhino conservation and has over 34 000 supporters.The Fund has invested over R3.5 million to nine different non-profit organisations engaged in rhino conservation. These donations are raised through the thousands of supporters swiping their MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet cards at participating retailers. This year the fund has raised R2 940 000 through the initiative and over R1.4 million has been allocated to SANParks and specifically Kruger National Park to help combat rhino poaching.
While there has been a slight decline in the numbers of rhino poached over the past two years, the country still loses on average, three scarce rhinos each day, and both Black and White rhinos remain threatened with extinction in the wild.
The funding has enabled the park to buy a brand-new FOXBAT light aircraft. The more cost-effective FOXBAT will play an essential role in monitoring rhinos, identifying and responding to threats, and ensure that Kruger’s anti-poaching unit is better equipped when it comes to combatting increasingly sophisticated gangs of rhino poachers. The decentralised aerial capacity which the new FOXBAT provides is pivotal in this struggle. In the face of the terrible, ongoing onslaught, the Kruger National Park remains home to the largest remaining populations of Africa’s iconic rhinos.
“It is with great appreciation that SANParks has received the news that the MyPlanet Rhino Fund will be donating a FOXBAT A22LS aircraft,” says Steven Whitfield, Marula North Regional Ranger in the Kruger National Park and also pilot responsible for piloting the new aircraft and project. “Over the last few years, we have had great success due to our deployment of aircraft piloted by rangers over the vastness of Kruger. Aircraft have become irreplaceable assets enabling quick response and support to poaching incidents. They are vital for combatting poaching on many levels; improving monitoring, identifying high risk areas, patrolling remote areas inaccessible by vehicle and foot, and enhancing our rapid detection and response capabilities as poaching trends shift.”
The MyPlanet Rhino Fund FOXBAT will be based at Satara, in a newly built hangar that was jointly funded between MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet and StopRhinoPoaching.com. “The hangar which will house the new aircraft will greatly enhance the airwing capability in this region of the Kruger National Park. The construction demonstrates what can be achieved with the collaborative effort of organisations working together,” says Elise Serfontein, Founding Director of StopRhinoPoaching.com.
Conservationist and MyPlanet Rhino Fund Ambassador, Braam Malherbe says, “It’s incredible for citizen-driven fundraising to result in the much-needed donation of a state-of-the-art aircraft. For me, this is the proof that each person’s seemingly small contribution to conservation can result in a big impact. I am proud to see how my partnership with MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet makes a real difference, not only as an Ambassador, but as an individual shopper. When you think you are ‘only one person’, consider that these donations were made possible by individuals who simply chose to act and swipe their cards for the MyPlanet Rhino Fund every time they shopped. I encourage many more South African shoppers to join us.”
Rhino killings in the Kruger National Park have marginally declined over the past two years, but poaching has unfortunately increased in other areas. The MyPlanet Rhino Fund has also made donations of over R500 000 each to the rhino conservation initiatives of Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape and the Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust in the North-West Province. Balule Nature Reserve in Limpopo has received R371 400 in support of its K9 anti-poaching and community outreach initiatives.
This year, the MyPlanet Rhino Fund is continuing its support of the Lapalala Wilderness School and Rhino Revolution’s Green Kidz programmes which raise awareness and involve the youth from vulnerable communities in rhino conservation education. Effective rhino conservation also demands the optimal use of data, and the remaining 2018 funds have been allocated to Endangered Wildlife Trust and Southern African Wildlife College projects that are focused on improving data analysis and developing a software tool to facilitate greater information sharing, gathering and reporting.
“Supporters of the MyPlanet Rhino Fund can feel very proud of themselves,” says MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet General Manager, Pieter Twine. “For 21 years we have been raising funds for schools and charities, and over the past seven years, I am proud to see how South African shoppers have stood up for rhinos, a national icon. Their support is phenomenal, and an inspiration to others who also want to play a part in protecting these fantastic animals who are an integral part of our national heritage”
Sign up for your free MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card and make MyPlanet Rhino Fund one of your beneficiaries. Every time you swipe at the till point of a participating retailer, they make a donation on your behalf, at no cost to you. Each year, the MyPlanet Rhino Fund disperses funds to conservation organisations and government agencies using a variety of best practices and programmes to protect Rhinos.