For the past eight years, six Volkswagen (VW) Amaroks have driven more than a million kilometres as part of an effort by Wilderness Foundation Africa to protect South Africa’s rhinos through a sponsorship from VW Commercial Vehicles South Africa.
During that time, though, a total of 7 720 rhinos were poached in South Africa. Last year alone, on average two rhinos were poached every day. VW Commercial Vehicles has therefore renewed its sponsorship and support of the Wilderness Foundation Africa’s fight against rhino poaching.
“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 rhinos in the world, which we want to protect and preserve for generations to come,” says Andile Dlamini, head of communications at Volkswagen Group South Africa.
“For this reason Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles made a decision back in 2011 to support Wilderness Foundation Africa’s anti-poaching activities,” he adds.
The foundation’s 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 and managing a rhino anti-poaching tip-off hotline.
The R2-million annual sponsorship sees six Amaroks being used for protection of rhino populations on the ground, rhino and wildlife crime-syndicate investigation support, rhino DNA collection, air support for rhino security and rhino monitoring, as well as support of the K9 units.
In addition, the sponsorship is used for treating rhinos that have survived poaching incidents, education and awareness of the rhino poaching crisis and education of the youth from communities surrounding game reserves.
This year, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will also support 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.
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.