Jacaranda FM has launched a new anti-poaching project called the Purple Rhino project. The station has led initiatives in this arena including sending rangers on specialised training, providing equipment, arranging vehicle usage for the teams on the front line, and more recently, trained and deployed tracker dogs to work with the anti-poaching units in rhino reserves.
The station keeps its listeners informed via the weekly Rhino Files, and hosts rhino experts on air.
Since the start of the project, Jacaranda FM has channelled over R2 million worth of support into strengthening the protection for rhinos in national and regional reserves. Focussed is placed on protecting large herds, so that support is channelled where maximum impact can be made.
Donations made to this project will help Jacaranda FM to broaden and intensify its efforts in ranger training, tracker dog training and the equipping of all those on the front lines. The station will also issue Purple Rhino logos to companies who support and contribute to this project - encouraging widespread corporate support for the project.
"This project will be even more streamlined and focused than before," says Jenny Griesel, Jacaranda FM's Marketing Manager, "Poachers and poaching syndicates operate with near military precision. If we are to win the fight against poaching, and ensure that the Big 5 stays that way for future generations, it is our shared responsibility to have people, training, systems and procedures in place that can outclass poachers at any level."
Jacaranda FM's anti-poaching efforts so far:
The station's anti-poaching efforts, headed up by Jenny Griesel and Jacaranda FM presenters, Barney Simon and Martin Bester, saw its first major achievement in September 2010. During a 12-hour fundraising telethon, which was held at the station's Samrand studios, Jacaranda FM presenters, business partners and a host of celebrities ¬- including the likes of Nicole Flint, Steve Hofmeyr, Arno Jordaan, Izak Davel, Bakkies Botha and Claire Johnston - managed to raise over R1 million in cash and anti-poaching support equipment.
The day right after, Martin and Barney, went to do some hard footwork in the Pilanesberg. They teamed up with the North West Parks and StopRhinoPoaching.com teams to make sure that 3 rhinos - later fondly dubbed Martin, Barney and Jacaranda - were tracked, briefly sedated, ear notched and micro-chipped in order to better ensure their safety. They also spent time with the anti-poaching unit in this reserve.
In the months leading into the first half of 2011, Jacaranda FM also moved on to secure the usage of 2 vehicles, in partnership with Toyota, to North West Parks. The station made several donations of camping equipment, radio systems, GPS's, cameras, computers and various parks (North West Parks, Mpumulanga Parks, Limpopo Parks), SANParks, and other rhino conservation organizations, including EWT, the Trackers & The Clive Walker Foundation.
Jacaranda FM dedicated a substantial amount of funds to the specialized training of anti-poaching field rangers from seven rhino reserves across three provinces. These rangers, who were selected by a skilled committee, embarked on 6 weeks of specialized training - provided by Li Lotriet & the team at Quemic Wildlife Security Services in the Waterberg. The training program covered everything from advanced firearm training to survival techniques, tracking skills, crime scene integrity management, first aid, navigation and dangerous game training - a comprehensive range of bush skills to beat poachers at their own game.
The first batch of 14 rangers - selected from North West Parks, Mpumalanga Parks and Limpopo Parks - completed their training in July 2011. Not only were they equipped with the best front line skills, but also fully kitted out with all the best in anti-poaching technology and equipment. The second group completed their training later that year.
To complement the then well-established Rhino Files - a feature that continues to run across all the station's platforms and updates listeners on anything rhino-related - Jacaranda FM led the way on World Rhino Day in September 2011. Top rhino-experts were featured on air and chatted with Jacaranda FM's animal loving listener base about the realities of rhino poaching and, of course, the ways in which they could make a practical difference to bring an end to the senseless slaughter.
More recently, in April 2012, Jacaranda FM's listeners and friends opened their hearts and wallets during an auction of The Parlotones' Guitarist, Neil Pauw's, painting - the proceeds of which would be used for to train tracker dogs.
The auction was a culmination of an extended campaign which started in March 2012 when Pauw's painting was put "on auction" as part of the The Wild episode's storyline. On M-Net's high gloss show, the painting was was sold to Itumeleng (played by Shona Ferguson) who "paid" R60 000.
Fiction became reality when Jacaranda FM's studio in Montecasino hosted the live 4-hour radio broadcast which generated calls and pledges from corporates and individuals. Children were donating pocket money of R20, while Corporates were creating massive drama that saw Clippa Sales finally pledge R200 000 to the cause in the final minutes, and walk away with Pauw's masterpiece.
Tracker dogs trained
A whopping R570 000 was pledged in total - enough for ten tracker dogs to be trained and deployed by the end of 2012.
Russell & Toby, a pair of German Malinois, were the first to dogs to graduate from this program, which sees pups starting their training at as young as 8 weeks of age. Toby and Russell dealt with confrontation and immobilization of poachers and, at their graduation event, even showed off a breath-taking display of pulling a poacher from a moving vehicle. Russell and Toby were each awarded a medal and a Jacaranda FM / StopRhinoPoaching.com jacket.
From here the dogs went on to the final phase of their training: going to various parks, including Kruger National Park, where they were acclimatized to the bush, learnt to fly in a helicopter and sharpened their skills in the bush. They are now full time members of their anti-poaching units, where they will work to help protect rhino and stop poachers in their tracks. The next five, are currently being trained in Mpumalanga.
The project, aims to train and deploy 10 tracker dogs in national and regional reserves this year. Their training is focused on the four key areas needed for effective on-the-ground support: visual weapon detection, horn detection, tracking in the bush and hot scene intervention.
The dogs and their training, up until now, were financed purely through the funds raised by Jacaranda through the initiative with M-Net's The Wild, The Parlotones and StopRhinpPoaching.com, with the dogs' insurance provided by Lloyds of London, via Businessure.
Jacaranda FM's anti-poaching efforts have come a long way thanks to the support of individuals like Kahn Morbee, lead singer and spokesperson for the Parlotones: He says that "Rhinos belong to all South Africans and the people of South Africa showed that they care and that as a united force we can achieve amazing things. I hope that in 20 years we still have a thriving population of an iconic symbol of our society and that in some way this event was a major catalyst. The struggle is far from over but we showed that we're prepared to fight back".
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