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Monday, 19 December 2016

Heavy duty mattresses for Orphan Rhino''s

On the 13th December Bryan Boshoff (representing Hluhluwe Hilltop Honorary Officers) and Craig de Villiers of MJ Beds handed over heavy duty mattresses which were specially manufactured for the orphan rhinos. We thank MJ Beds, Craig and Brain for their contribution and the passion demonstrated, we believe this will truly assist the conservation effort.
Photo : left to right Craig De Villiers (MJ Beds) ; Bryan Boshoff ; Philemon Ndwandwe (Game Capture Assistant) ; JP Van Heerden (Game Capture Officer).


Spar Christmas Hampers 2016

“SPAR good for You" (us).
What a treat the HIP Field Staff and APU of Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park got on the weekend of the 26 Nov 2016. The Hilltop Hluhluwe Honorary Officers Christmas hamper project was a great success this year again thanks to SPAR for sponsoring great hampers filled with staple foods and luxury items. The hampers were distributed to both the Hluhluwe and Imfolozi Field Staff and APU Rangers, our front line defences to say a thank you for their dedication and hard work that is often unseen. 
The hampers were well received with smiles all around. We would like to say thank you to SPAR for the great hampers and their time and effort that was put into making this project a great success. Wow what a hamper it was SPAR really out did themselves this year.



Wednesday, 9 November 2016

HiP Canine Unit - A Rangers best friend

HiP Canine Unit - A Rangers best friend

Sibonelo Gunner small
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, in partnership with a number of donors, introduced tracking dogs into the Park in December 2015. Working Dogs are widely recognised as both a strong deterrent to rhino poaching but also a remarkable reactive tool for tracking poachers down.
The project was made possible through generous donations from WESSA Lowveld Region, the International Anti-Poaching Foundation and Duna Adventures, who donated funds towards the acquisition of the Tracking Dogs and the training of the Handlers. Hills Dog Food have committed to sponsoring the Dogs food for the rest of their working lives while Bayer Animal Health have pledged to assist with basic veterinary maintenance needs for 2016. ROGS, the canine equipment specialists, have sponsored leads, harnesses and collars.
The Handlers completed an intensive 3 week training course with their allocated Dogs onsite in iMfolozi Game Reserve. They will continue to receive training throughout the up and coming year, completing a total of 6 weeks of training.
The dogs are deployed in strategic positions within the Park, to be used for both proactive and reactive anti-poaching operations. The donated dogs, a German Shepard, named Gazelle, and a Bloodhound, named Gunner, have been trained to track humans exclusively as their main skill. Gazelle is also trained to assist in the actual apprehension of suspects while Gunner is a ferocious tracker who can track a suspect up to 24 hours after he or she has passed through an area. Completing the team is Levi, a German Short-Haired Pointer, who is owned by one of the Canine Unit Handlers.
Sibonelo Gunner Gazelle Ian Dave Levi
From right to left: APU Officer Sibonelo Zulu with Gunner, Section Ranger Ian Pollard with Gazelle, and Conservation Ecologist Dave Druce with Levi
Patrick Sibeko, iMfolozi Game Reserve Conservation Manager, was very happy to see the Dogs arrival in HiP, “I am personally very excited about the prospects of having this new tool available to us. Field Rangers need all the support they can get and what is better than having man’s best friend at your-side?”
Jabulani Ngubane, HiP Park Manager, was honest in his assessment of the Dogs and their role in rhino poaching, “There is no silver bullet for rhino poaching but working dogs have become synonymous with rhino security, and have been very successful in many conservation areas throughout Africa. Poaching incursions differ from case to case, and you require different tools in different situations. Dogs are now another tool in our toolbox“.
He continued, “I am extremely grateful to all our donors who have made this project possible.  These partners understand the difficulties we face in the field and we truly appreciate their willingness to assist us in combating rhino poaching”
For further information with regards to the project, please contact Ian Pollard on ian.pollard@kznwildlife.com or 031 001 7557

Article from - http://www.kznwildlife.com/news-and-events/1264-hip-canine-unit-a-rangers-best-friend.html

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Gyms for the fore front Field Ranger’s

Late year Hluhluwe Hilltop Honorary Officers took to the challenge to help create five small remote gyms. The Section Rangers were looking for Gym equipment to build small gyms in the remote Field Ranger Camps where the teams can use the time between patrols to do exercises and build up their physical strength to assist them in conducting their physical tasks.

Our main aim was and is  to provide weight training access as their patrols during the day keep their aerobic fitness up,  weights will improve leg strength for hills; chasing poachers etc. and a stronger upper body will help in long extended patrols where they carry heavy backpacks (40kg).We have this year equipping another 6 camps with gym equipment to help the H.I.P field rangers keep fit in there down time to help fight the war against poaching and to show that people do care and appreciated their efforts.
The Hluhluwe Hilltop Honorary Officers would like to thank our sponsors that help make this project a possibility. Thank you for the support from RBCT, Duys, Gym Africa, Leomat and the individual’s members of the public.
The project is still on going and we will be working at increasing the remote gyms equipment in the camps. If you would like to help with this project and sponsor equipment or funds please email admin@hilltophonoraryofficers.org.za.

Still needed Weight plates and Punch bags and gloves


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Dog Food Drive: for the love of dogs and Rhinos

For all the wildlife enthusiasts and animal lovers out there, we call on you to join us in a food drive for HiP’s anti-poaching dogs . We are calling on the public to come together on #WorldRhinoDay and support the K9 Unit in the Hluhluwe- imfolozi Park by donating food for the canine heroes in the fight against poaching.



While many of us enjoy game viewing and tracking of game in Hluhluwe- imfolozi Park, there are always poachers somewhere out there in the wilderness and a ranger with a working dog, in hot pursuit, with the knowledge that they might have to give up their lives for a bigger causes and for the world and future generations to enjoy. These unsung heroes of conservation, along with their support team, risk their lives every day to save our precious rhinos. Many man hours and funds goes into training and maintaining these dogs, which have resulted in many successful arrests. But these dogs need your support and one way is to help keep this four-legged force battle-ready is through the donation of food. Hence our HiP Dog Food Drive run by our Hilltop Honorary Officer group. If you love dogs and our rhinos, simply donate a bag of food and we will make sure it gets to our dedicated ant poaching dogs.
There are two ways you can get involved in the Dog Food Drive:

1. Drop off a bag of food at the HiP gates! Kicking off on #WorldRhinoDay the public will have from 22 September 2016 until the 30th of September to drop off as many bags of dog food as they can. These unsung heroes have a very specific diet which allows them to maintain their health, fitness and optimal performances. So we ask that you only please purchase Science Hill’s plan Canine Adult Advanced Fitness or Eukanuba Working and Endurance Adult, as any change in diet can affect performance. These are specialty dry food that are stocked at vet stores. Collect from your friends and family and email us to arrange collection.  admin@hilltophonoraryofficers.org.za 

2.    Donate money to the cause!  If you Live outside of South Africa, simply can’t afford a bag, or just want to do your. Send an email to  admin@hilltophonoraryofficers.org.za 
      requesting the bank details, which will be sent to you along with a reference that should be used when making the transfer. Get your colleagues friends, family ,clubs and school involved as little as ZAR10   can help all donations are welcome and all funds go directly back to the K9 Unit in the Hluhluuwe -imfolozi Park.
While the dogs are lovingly cared for by the team in the Hluhluwe -imfolozi  Park, the cost of fighting the rhino poaching crisis is so extremely high that any funding is spread thinly between. So a simple gesture like providing staple food means that vigorous monies can be spent in other vital areas. The more help we can rally up, the better.
And with your help we can show our anti-poaching dogs just how much we care. Our rhino dogs thanking you in advance for your generosity! #rhinodogs

You can also help by spreading the word by sharing this article and changing your Facebook or WhatsApp profile photo to our badge for the month of September. You can download from it from – www.hilltophonoraryofficers.org.za ,  www.kznsightings.co.za or download here 


Thursday, 25 August 2016

DRIVING CHANGE: PROTECTING THE PROTECTED


South Africa currently has a serious problem with regards to road-related fatalities, and this epidemic is relevant to wildlife too. Insurance claims suggest that approximately R82.5 million is paid each year against collisions with wild animals, though the costs to wildlife of these collisions are never calculated. So what are the consequences for animals? The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is tackling this question and working to find solutions to the problems associated with wildlife and transport infrastructure.




Perhaps the most obvious concern is the direct and negative consequences of vehicle-wildlife collisions, more commonly known as ‘roadkill’. Reports via social media platforms from members of the public show a high level of public disquiet and emotional concern about the rate of road deaths in parks, including issues related to speeding and careless driving, and the conservation impacts and wildlife welfare risks such driving poses. To take a closer look into the problem the EWT launched a new project in 2014 aimed specifically at wildlife and road issues in nature reserves and parks.

In 2014, Pilanesberg National Park was the first reserve to support the initiative, where many wildlife species including leopard and zebra have been killed on the roads. Following this, research continued in Addo Elephant National Park in 2015. The research team set out to monitor driver behaviour through placing a fake snake on the road, and recording how many times it was ‘hit’ and the speed at which the vehicle was travelling.  We found that approximately 50% of drivers hit the fake snake. “From our survey, it seems that observation levels of the driver, rather than the speed of the vehicle, is the key factor in causing roadkill,” explains Wendy Collinson, the Project Executant of the EWT’s Wildlife and Roads Project.

Armed with a better understanding of the reasons why roadkill may be happening in national parks, the research team have returned to Pilanesberg National Park to undertake follow-up work. “A driver awareness campaign is to be launched in parks to make drivers more aware of animals on the roads themselves,” Collinson commented. “We plan to test a number of awareness-measures with visitors to the park and to assess which method works best. This will guide us on future decisions in other parks that will improve the quality of the experience of park visitors and safeguard the animals in these protected areas,” she concluded.

The EWT is also excited to announce that the project has expanded to Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park through a joint collaboration with the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, as well as Table Mountain National Park, where preliminary roadkill surveys have begun. “We are also eagerly awaiting the start of some surveys to begin in Kruger National Park, with support from the University of Mpumalanga and SANParks,” stated Collinson. “There is an urgent need to better quantify and understand the impacts of roads on wildlife in protected areas and to develop and test methods to manage these. Ultimately, through understanding the causes of roadkill, this project will guide further research, specifically for recommended roadkill-reduction measures in other protected areas in South Africa.”

The project is novel, unique and innovative in its design since it also uses volunteers or citizen scientists to assist with data collection. Citizen scientists are becoming more recognised by wildlife researchers as a support to expert data collection. To galvanise public participation to this process, the EWT has taken to the internet to get people to report wildlife fatalities.  The EWT has a Smartphone app, Road Watch, which allows data to be quickly and accurately captured, assisting people to easily submit their information. Other social media platforms include Facebook and LinkedIn.

The EWT's Wildlife and Roads Project in Protected Areas is supported by Bridgestone SA, Copenhagen Zoo and Mikros Traffic Monitoring. Collaborations include: Mpumalanga University, University of KZN, North West Parks and Tourism Board, South African National Parks and Africa:Live.
 
End.
 
Wendy Collinson
Project executant: Wildlife & Roads Project
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
wendyc@ewt.org.za



Constant Hoogstad
Manager: Wildlife & Energy Programme & Wildlife & Roads Project
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
constanth@ewt.org.za

Belinda Glenn
Communication and Brand Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
belindag@ewt.org.za

Monday, 18 July 2016

Fundraising

The Hluhluwe Hilltop Honorary Officers, were given an opportunity by SPAR to raise funds at their SPAR suppliers golf day,we are extremely great full for the support we received from everyone.


Monday, 4 July 2016

Umbombwe Forest Trail

Hluhluwe Hilltop Honorary Officers fixing the bridge at the Umbombwe Forest trail @ Hilltop HIP.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Gyms for the fore front Field Ranger’s


The Section Rangers were looking for Gym equipment to build small gyms in the remote Field Ranger Camps where the teams can use the time between patrols to do exercises and build up their physical strength to assist them in conducting their physical tasks.
The Hluhluwe Hilltop Honorary Officers took to the challenge to help create these small remote gyms. Our main aim is to provide weight training access as their patrols during the day ...keep their aerobic fitness up, weights will improve leg strength for hills; chasing poachers etc. and a stronger upper body will help in long extended patrols where they carry heavy backpacks (40kg).We have started with equipping 5 camps with gym equipment to help the H.I.P field rangers keep fit in there down time to help fight the war against poaching and to show that people do care and appreciated their efforts.
The Hluhluwe Hilltop Honorary Officers would like to thank our sponsors that help make this project a possibility. Thank you for the support from RBCT, Duys, Gym Africa and Leomat.
The project is still on going and we will be working at equipping more camps with gym equipment. If you would like to help with this project and sponsor equipment or funds or anyone who has old equipment, weights, barbells, dumbbells or benches and would like to donate please email admin@hilltophonoraryofficers.co.za or contact Sharon van Vollenhoven on 0827279442
 
 
 

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park bursting at the seams with elephants - WESSA


2016-03-01 08:41 - Louzel Lombard



Cape Town - The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) has embarked on an elephant monitoring project in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal in a bid to provide essential data to support and strengthen Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s management of elephant populations in the park as well as enhance a broader understanding of how best to manage elephant populations in closed systems.

The elephant population in the park is fast approaching its maximum capacity, and this is causing problems in the closed environment.

Elephants are known as a keystone species because they have a disproportionate ability to alter their habitat and to dramatically affect other species in the ecosystems in which they live.

They therefore require extensive ranges to maintain healthy populations and, as ecological engineers, "they can be either a threat or an asset to biodiversity in a closed system," WESSA says.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is a medium-sized reserve of 96 000ha with a growing elephant population, which is fast approaching the reserve’s ecological carrying capacity of around 1 000 individuals.

While this is wonderful news for the elephant population as a whole, the elephant are becoming too many for the park's ecosystem to handle. Therefore, the park's management have been implementing a contraception programme where adult cows are darted from a helicopter with a contraceptive as part of an Elephant Management Plan to control numbers.

If this method proves effective it will provide an attractive alternative to culling or trans-location.


Advance elephant monitoring needed

A key aim of Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park's Elephant Management Plan, drawn up by Park Ecologist Dave Druce and others, is to “Maintain the elephant population in a state that does not jeopardise the conservation of biodiversity elements, priority biological assets or the maintenance of ecological processes within the Park”.

In support of the contraception programme, accurate on-the-ground tracking and data collection is essential to inform elephant conservation and broader management strategies in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, WESSA says.

Although 18 of the park’s adult cow elephants are fitted with tracking collars, it has been more than two years since the last field monitor was employed and data was collected.

Chris Galliers from WESSA’s Biodiversity Programme has now facilitated a resumption of the monitoring work to redress the data gap and ensure close observation of the contraceptive programme.

This builds on WESSA’s 2014 funding support for a full aerial count of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park elephant and rhino populations.

Some recently accessed funding has now allowed WESSA to appoint Timothy Kuiper as an elephant research monitor in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park.

Kuiper is working under Druce where his monitoring activities include building up the individual elephant photograph database and field ID kits; collecting data on herd demographics and family structure; monitoring elephant movements from GPS collar data; and assisting on the ground with contraception operations.

The current project duration is for five months, but it is hoped that this work can be continued if additional funding is secured. The project is also collaborating with Michelle Henley from Elephants Alive - a long term WESSA partner and member of the Elephant Specialist Advisory Group - to draw on her expertise as well as to ensure that there is shared learning with her work on elephant populations in the Lowveld.

WESSA has been involved in elephant conservation issues for most of its 90-year existence.

Elephants and their conservation were central to WESSAs successful campaigning for the establishment of the Kruger National Park in 1926, the Addo Elephant National Park in 1931 and the later expansion of Addo in 2002.

This latest project supports the overall aim of WESSA’s Biodiversity Programme, which is to promote harmonious and integrated management between people and nature in conservation work.

The vast amounts of elephant in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, despite the overall dire stance of elephants elsewhere, is but a small example of the highly complicated system of managing wild animals in closed environments.

Conservation journalist Scott Ramsay for Traveller24 recently wrote how elephants higher up in Africa have declined with 97% in less than a century.

"Accurate estimates suggest that there were 12 million elephants in the early 1900s," Ramsay found. And today there are only 350 000, which includes both savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) and forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis).

WESSA, however, says it is excited and optimistic that this venture will add value to the work that Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is doing to protect these magnificent creatures, that it will improve our understanding around the management of closed elephant populations in South Africa and enhance decision-making by reserve managers.

 

Rhinos flourish in a South African wildlife park


Christopher Torchia, Associated Press

Updated 5:26 am, Sunday, February 28, 2016



Photo: Denis Farrell, AP

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In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 young rhinos eat in their enclosure at a rhino orphanage in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu Natal province South Africa. Rhino calves that have lost their mothers are especially vulnerable and can spend several years under the care of conservationists before being released back into the wild. less

In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 young rhinos eat in their enclosure at a rhino orphanage in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu Natal province South Africa. Rhino calves that have lost ... more

Photo: Denis Farrell, AP

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In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 a baby rhino stands with its dehorned mother in their enclosure at a rhino orphanage in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu Natal province South Africa. Rhinos have been slaughtered in increasing numbers to meet demand for their horns in Asia, particularly Vietnam. less

In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 a baby rhino stands with its dehorned mother in their enclosure at a rhino orphanage in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu Natal province South Africa. ... more

Photo: Denis Farrell, AP

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In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 young rhinos walk about their enclosure at a rhino orphanage in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu Natal province South Africa. Rhino calves that have lost their mothers are especially vulnerable and can spend several years under the care of conservationists before being released back into the wild. less

In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 young rhinos walk about their enclosure at a rhino orphanage in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu Natal province South Africa. Rhino calves that have ... more

Photo: Denis Farrell, AP

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In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 young rhinos nap in an enclosure at a rhino orphanage in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu Natal province South Africa. Rhino calves that have lost their mothers are especially vulnerable and can spend several years under the care of conservationists before being released back into the wild. less

In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 young rhinos nap in an enclosure at a rhino orphanage in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu Natal province South Africa. Rhino calves that have lost ... more

Photo: Denis Farrell, AP

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In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 a young rhino, whose mother was killed by poachers, stands in its enclosure at a rhino orphanage in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu Natal province South Africa after being rescued two nights earlier. The bulky baby , while sedated, was hoisted into a rescue helicopter, whose seats and doors had been removed, and taken to the refuge. less

In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 a young rhino, whose mother was killed by poachers, stands in its enclosure at a rhino orphanage in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu Natal province ... more

Photo: Denis Farrell, AP

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FILE - In this file photo taken Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 a young rhino, whose mother was killed by poachers, stands in its enclosure at a rhino orphanage in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu Natal province South Africa after being rescued two nights earlier. The bulky baby , while sedated, was hoisted into a rescue helicopter, whose seats and doors had been removed, and taken to the refuge. less

FILE - In this file photo taken Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 a young rhino, whose mother was killed by poachers, stands in its enclosure at a rhino orphanage in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu Natal ... more

HLUHLUWE-IMFOLOZI GAME RESERVE, South Africa (AP) — During the rescue of a South African rhino calf whose mother was killed by poachers, six heavily perspiring men squeezed the sedated orphan into a helicopter whose seats and doors had been removed to make more space, according to a witness account. The rhino's behind stuck out of the aircraft a bit, but the improvised airlift in February was a success.

Days later, an Associated Press team saw the jittery calf trotting around a holding pen at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, a wildlife area whose tradition as a rhino refuge contrasts with an otherwise grim picture in which rhinos have been slaughtered in increasing numbers to meet demand for their horns in parts of Asia, especially Vietnam.

The disoriented calf, which collided noisily with an enclosure door at one point, could spend a couple of years under human care until it is resilient enough to return to the wild. It is the guest of conservationists whose predecessors, many decades ago, chased darted rhinos through thorny bush on horseback, or noosed them while speeding alongside the galloping beasts in open trucks.

The storied history at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, the last redoubt of southern white rhinos a century ago and then a gene pool for distribution of surplus rhinos elsewhere in Africa and in Western zoos and parks, is a source of hope among groups struggling for a formula to curb poaching. In the late 19th century, there were estimated to be fewer than 100 of that type of rhino because of uncontrolled hunting, posing a crisis comparable in some ways to today's challenge.

"They were where we are now — in dire straits, with their backs against the wall," said Werner Myburgh, chief executive officer of the Peace Parks Foundation, a group that promotes cross-border conservation areas.

Today, there are about 20,000 southern white rhinos, most of them in South Africa. There are only three northern white rhinos left in the world, living at a Kenyan conservancy. The critically endangered black rhinos number about 5,000. Other kinds of threatened rhinos live in parts of Asia.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, formerly split into two parks, transfers roughly 100 rhinos annually, many going to other conservation areas or private farms, said Cedric Coetzee, manager of rhino security in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, which includes the park.

"We're still in a sustainable model here," Coetzee said.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi was among the first areas in Africa where wildlife was formally protected in the late 19th century, and had also been a former royal Zulu hunting ground with some restrictions on the killing of animals.

"It's one area where we all meet together," Coetzee said. "It's got steep, steep traditions in Zulu history and it's got steep, steep traditions in white history as well."

The park is under less pressure from infiltration than South Africa's Kruger National Park, which is particularly vulnerable because it borders Mozambique, where many rhino poaching teams are based.

Still, the threat looms. Poachers killed 24 rhinos in KwaZulu-Natal province as of Feb. 25 this year, an increase of 16 percent over the same period in 2015. Nationwide, poachers killed 1,175 rhinos in South Africa in 2015, down 40 from the previous year, according to the government.

The facility in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi park where the white rhino calf was taken after its helicopter ride can house several dozen rhinos. On a recent afternoon, two black rhino calves snacked on leaves and one approached visitors at a barrier, seemingly content to be patted on its head.

The man credited with saving southern white rhinos is Ian Player, the late South African conservationist and brother of golfer Gary Player who pioneered rhino capture and relocation methods in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi area, starting in the late 1950s. He worked closely with Zulu tracker Maqgubu Ntombela in a relationship that defied the racial divisions of the era's white minority rule.

"There's a lot of good energy" at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, said Coetzee, the rhino security manager.