The Volkswagen Group SA on Monday pledged continued support for the fight against South Africa’s besieged rhino population by renewing the eight-year-old sponsorship of the Forever Wild Rhino Initiative.
Head of communications at Volkswagen Group SA Andile Dlamini said this year’s R2 million annual sponsorship sees six Amarok bakkies being used for on-the-ground protection of rhino populations, rhino and wildlife crime syndicate investigation support, rhino DNA collection, air support for rhino security and rhino monitoring, supporting of K9 units, treating rhino that have survived poaching incidents, education and awareness of the rhino poaching crisis, and education of the youth from communities surrounding game reserves.
“The rhino plays a key role in the ecosystem and is also pivotal for our country’s eco-tourism. South Africa has the biggest concentration of rhino in the world, which we want to protect and preserve for generations to come and it is this reason that Volkswagen Commercial made a decision back in 2011 to support Wilderness Foundation Africa’s anti-poaching activities,” said Dlamini.
He said for 2019, VW South Africa renewed its support for Wilderness Foundation Africa’s anti-poaching activities last month.
This year, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will also be supporting Wilderness Foundation Africa’s Rhino Horn Demand Reduction Campaign. This campaign aims to reduce the demand for rhino horn in Vietnam, which is one of the largest end-markets of illegal rhino horn.
Dlamini said Wilderness Foundation Africa has been working with the youth in Vietnam since 2014 and this year 14 Vietnamese youth will be travelling to South Africa to take part in wilderness trails and workshops in Mfolozi Game Reserve.
”We are proud that for the past eight years, the Amaroks have driven more than one million kilometres protecting South Africa’s rhino population and are proud to continue supporting the important cause,” said Dlamini.
The Forever Wild Rhino Initiative provides logistical and operational support for conservation and law enforcement agencies responsible for rhino management and security. It is also involved in raising public awareness of the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa, managing a rhino anti-poaching tip-off hotline as well as managing and implementing a rhino horn demand reduction campaign in Vietnam.
Additional key activities of the Forever Wild Rhino Initiative include vehicle support, rhino rescue support, dog support, air support, intelligence gathering and specialist support, rhino syndicate investigations, and Eastern Cape Rhino DNA collection.
In the last eight years, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has supported the initiative through the provision of sponsored Amarok pick-ups. The Amaroks have operated in South Africa’s rhino population hot spots in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Mpumalanga, North West, Eastern Cape, and Western Cape.
Last week, the department of environmental affairs welcomed the arrest of a man at the busy OR Tambo International Airport for the possession of 30 kilograms of rhino horn.
The department said the man attempted to smuggle the 22 rhino horns from South Africa to the Far East.
– African News Agency