Limpopo Archives - Rhino Review

South Africans volunteer to keep rhino orphanage going during lockdown

By Rescue and rehab, Volunteering
Channel News Asia | April 21, 2020

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LIMPOPO, SOUTH AFRICA: Looking after an orphaned baby rhino is hard work: you feed them bottled milk at all hours, comfort them through constant fear and bereavement and endure long nights of screaming for the absent mother they witnessed being shot dead by poachers.

“The older calves take it really hard. They’ll call for their mothers for up to two weeks,” said Yolande van der Merwe, 38, who helped set up the world’s first such orphanage in South Africa’s Limpopo province almost a decade ago.

“They start bawling and that hits you right in the heart.”

Original photo as published by Channel News Asia. Orphaned rhinos Kolisi and Amelia, seven and four months respectively are seen amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a sanctuary for rhinos orphaned by poaching, in Mookgopong, Limpopo province, South Africa April 17, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

To help manage the workload – “we can easily pull a 72 hour shift with two to three hours sleep”, van der Merwe said – the orphanage has depended on volunteers to fly in from abroad on three-month rotations at the site set among thick bush.

So when coronavirus panic struck and the latest three foreign volunteers’ visas were revoked, they were in a bind.

“I was quite worried that we were not going to cope,” she said, after Kolisi and Amelia, seven and four months, respectively, slurped noisily from 2-litre bottles of milk formula she was feeding them.

Manager and founder Arrie van Deventer, a 66-year-old retired teacher, got on the phone and started making frantic pleas on social media for South Africans to help out.

“We were swamped,” he said. He picked two volunteers from the several hundred offers. They are now staying put with the four permanent staff since last month’s nationwide lockdown imposed by President Cyril Ramphosa.

South African Deidre Rosenbahn, 37, had been a restaurant chef in Britain for 14 years and then travelled in Australia, but yearned to return home.

“I came back to the coronavirus. It was hard to find a job, so when this came up I put my hand up,” she said, as she fed their youngest new arrival, Mapimpi, from a bottle.

Poachers killed his mother when he was seven days old. He was dehydrated and withered – they found him trying to eat sand. Now he seems well-fed, relaxed and playful. At the age of five, the rhinos in the orphanage are released back into the wild.

“We have dozens of rhinos that come through here, and 95 per cent of them are because of the poaching pandemic,” Deventer said. The precise number, like the sanctuary’s location, are closely guarded secrets in order to protect them from poachers.

The game reserve adjacent to the orphanage has been attacked, unsuccessfully, twice.

Africa’s rhino population has been decimated over the decades to feed demand for rhino horn, which, despite being made of the same stuff as hair and fingernails, is prized in East Asia as a supposed medicine and as jewellery.



Man shot dead during poaching incident at Limpopo game farm (South Africa)

By Antipoaching
Review | March 12, 2020

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LIMPOPO: A suspected poacher has been shot dead during a poaching incident on a game farm in Dorset outside Lephalale on Tuesday, 10 March, says the police.

The man was reportedly shot and killed after he tried to shoot at the security officers on the said farm.

Police Spokesperson, Brig Motlafela Mojapleo reports: “It is alleged gunshots were heard at around 03:00 and when security officers went to investigate they encountered three unknown male suspects, one reportedly armed with a rifle. When the officers attempted to arrest the group the armed suspect apparently tried to shoot them and was then shot and killed in the process. The remaining two suspects disappeared into the nearby bushes.”

Original photo as published by Review Online. Photos: Limpopo Police

On the scene police found two dehorned rhino carcasses and an axe. Three rhino horns had already been cut off. Further investigations led to the discovery of a rifle with three rounds of ammunition.

A case of murder, of rhino poaching and the possession of unlawful firearms and ammunition is being investigated.

The police have also launched a manhunt for the remaining two suspects and requested anyone with information that can lead to their arrest to contact WO JJ van Heerden at 082 414 2337.

Alternatively they can contact the 24-hour Crime stop number at 0860010111 or the nearest police station.

Police investigations still continue.



100,000 children stand against wildlife crime

By Antipoaching, Conservation, Education, Land conservation, Volunteering
Sifelani Tsiko, The Herald
February 18, 2020

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About 100,000 children in and around the national parks of Gonarezhou in Zimbabwe and Limpopo in Mozambique are being educated through the Peace and Changemaker Generation project to appreciate wildlife conservation efforts and to take a stand against wildlife crime.

The project also promotes girls’ rights in their communities as part of wider efforts to strengthen the two countries’ efforts to combat wildlife trafficking.

The project is a partnership between the World Children’s Prize Foundation and Peace Parks Foundation and is implemented in Zimbabwe by Shamwari Yemwanasikana, Gonarezhou Conservation Trust and Chilojo Club, in conjunction with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

This may be the first time that all children in a vast, but defined area are reached in order to contribute in the long-term to increased respect for children’s rights in their communities, and to the protection of wildlife and nature. The project is being carried out in communities in Zimbabwe and Mozambique living in or adjacent to the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area.

At least 2,000 children will be trained as Peace and Changemaker Generation ambassadors, together with 700 teachers and school leaders. Parents and local leaders would also be educated. These project ambassadors and teachers will educate all 100,000 children, in about 350 schools, about child rights, global goals for sustainable development, as well as the consequences of wildlife crime and climate change for their communities.


The national parks, Gonarezhou in Zimbabwe, and Limpopo in Mozambique, are rich in animal life and biodiversity that are continuously threatened by organised crime, poaching and trafficking of products such as rhino horn and elephant tusks; loss of natural habitat; drought; and climate change.

Both ecosystems and animals are endangered. There is not a single rhino left in the area. Many children live in poverty and face violations of their rights. Girls are especially vulnerable, but boys are also affected.

Paulo from Mozambique, now 16, was told to quit school at 13 to become a poacher: “It felt pointless carrying on at school, because there aren’t any jobs here anyway. But I’ve had enough,” he said.

“Poaching is not only illegal; it is also very dangerous. Poachers and rangers are getting killed in South Africa and Mozambique.”

Twelve-year-old Ronaldo from Mozambique lost his father when he was shot to death by park rangers in South Africa. “It’s wrong to kill animals, they are innocent. I wish my dad had done something different, but he did it because we are poor,” says Ronaldo.

Girls in the areas are especially vulnerable, and child marriage is common.

Blessing (15) from Zimbabwe was badly affected when her father gave up poaching after the number of park rangers increased. “It means I can’t go to school anymore, because we cannot afford to pay my school fees. Now I’m afraid that I will be married off,” says Blessing, having seen many of her peers, and younger girls, being forced to marry.

“Even though I had to leave school when my dad gave up poaching, I want to become a park ranger. Our wild animals are worth more alive than dead,” says Blessing.

Blessing, Paulo, Ronaldo and 100,000 other children in Zimbabwe and Mozambique are now taking part in the project, through which they will learn to stand up for their rights and make a change for a better future.

In addition, through the World Children’s Prize Programme, two million children in other countries will learn about the children in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, wildlife and protected areas, and how a new generation of children can make a change for the better.

Two rhinos found dead and dehorned at game reserve in Limpopo (South Africa)

By Antipoaching
Times Live | January 20, 2020

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A manhunt has been launched after two rhinos were found dead and dehorned at a game reserve outside Lephalale in Limpopo at the weekend.

Original photo as published by Times Live: Game rangers discovered the carcasses on Saturday. (Image: 123RF/Jacoba Susanna Maria Swanepoel)

Police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo said game rangers patrolling the farm on Saturday afternoon discovered the carcasses.

Mojapelo said they were found dehorned and in a “stage of decomposition”.

No arrests were made.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the nearest police station or Crime Stop on 0860 010 111.


Three game reserve employees arrested for rhino poaching in Limpopo, South Africa

By Antipoaching
SAPeople | November 19, 2019

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The South African Police Service (SAPS) in Lephalale (or Ellisras) in Limpopo have arrested three suspects for suspected rhino poaching. The three men were employees of the local game reserve on which they were arrested.

SAPS said in a statement that the suspects were aged 29, 30 and 33. They were arrested for ‘illegal hunting’ following an incident that occurred on Saturday, 16 June, said SAPS.

Original photo as published by SA People.

SAPS confirmed the three “were all employed at the game reserve at the time” and are allegedly responsible for killing a rhino and cutting off its horns. “The rhino carcass was later discovered by patrolling officers,” said SAPS. “The horns were valued at R75,000.”

The suspects are due to appear in Lephalale Magistrate’s court, facing charges of illegal hunting and conspiracy to poach.

SAPS said members of the Stock Theft Unit of the SAPS in Limpopo had arrested a total of eight suspects for poaching and possession of suspected stolen meat, over the past weekend. The other five suspects had stolen cows and goats.

Members of the public are encouraged to continue providing information on Stock Theft and crime in general to the SAPS by either downloading the MySAPS App or by calling the SAPS Crime Stop number 086 00 10111. Callers may remain anonymous and all information will be treated with strictest confidence.


Suspect nabbed for possession of rhino horns in Limpopo (South Africa)

By Antipoaching
Times Live | November 16, 2019

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A 25-year-old man was arrested in Modimolle on Friday morning after being found in possession of two rhino horns, Limpopo police said.

The suspect was arrested during an intelligence-led joint operation dubbed “Loreal” and comprising members of the Modimolle Crime Intelligence Unit, Modimolle Crime Prevention and the Endangered Species Unit.

Original photo as published by Times Live: A 25-year-old man was arrested in Modimolle on Friday morning after being found in possession of two rhino horns. (Image supplied by SAPS)

“The police acted on a tip-off from members of the community about a suspect carrying wild animal parts at a local filling station and immediately followed his movements.

“The suspect was approached, searched and that’s when they discovered two rhino horns concealed in a plastic bag inside a bag pack. The horns are valued at about R210,000,” police said.

The suspect will appear in the Modimolle magistrate’s court on Monday, facing a charge of possession of rhino horns.