Another Rhino birth at Aquila!
Another Rhino birth at Aquila!

Another Rhino birth at Aquila!

18th December 2015

Reconciliation Day at Aquila took on a whole new meaning, when one of their White Rhinos gave birth to a little one. The mother is well, very relaxed and calm and the baby is alert, ears are up and is tentatively exploring her new world. “We are not able to get very close to the pair as yet but it seems that the mother is very calm and is not displaying any signs that she is concerned for the safety of her young and we anticipate being able to get closer in the next couple of days when we can take better photographs.” Says owner of Aquila, Searl Derman.

Aquila’s anti-poaching measures are exceptional, the rhinos are constantly protected with no impact on the rhinos natural behaviour.

Aquila is home to the Saving Private Rhino Section 21 company that offers free anti-poaching courses to rangers working on private game reserves in Africa that are home to rhinos or elephants. This initiative developed from a tragic poaching attack on Aquila in 2011 when, 3 rhino were attacked, 2 of which did not survive. Aquila was left with no male rhinos to continue its breeding programme. It is interesting to note that the first rhino born in the Western Cape for the past 250 years was born at Aquila in 2005, since then the rhino population at Aquila grew steadily until the attack. One of the rhino killed had been the first rhino to be reintroduced and the other casualty was the first rhino born in Western Cape in the last 250 years.

It had been Aquila owner, Searl Derman’s long-time vision to re-introduce the Big 5 to the Western Cape and ensure their survival. Rhino bulls are not only expensive but extremely rare as well. So when the new bull arrived in May 2014, Aquila owner Searl Derman had high hopes for him and was determined to continue his work “Aquila continues to fight against the scourge of rhino poaching and we are committed in our efforts to protect the rhino that have been entrusted to us. The loss of our male rhinos in 2011 was tragic and was a set-back in our plan of increasing the rhino population close to Cape Town, we are now back on track, with a birth in October 2015 and now this one on 16th December.”

The Southern White rhino was once one of conservation’s greatest stories of success. 100 years ago the white rhino population had been reduced to only 50 due to the demand for rhino horn. These 50 rhino were protected in Kwazulu-Natal until the population had grown enough and conservationists like Aquila translocated them to other parts of the country in order to create new populations. However, the recent poaching crisis has escalated with over 4000 rhino killed since 2008 in South Africa alone.

In the midst of this poaching crisis, Aquila’s newest Big 5 member has created immense excitement and further fuelled the quest to save the rhino. In addition to the breeding programme, Aquila continues to run its anti-poaching training free of charge for private game reserves across the country. The training ensures that private reserve owners and their rangers are well-equipped and fully prepared to protect their rhino.

Derman says “People need to understand that this is a real war that private game reserve owners are fighting on the ground and losing. Municipalities, government and the public need to get involved with credible, bona fide causes and organisations that can and do make a difference. We are proud to say that Saving Private Rhino has been responsible for training many different game reserves security staff on all aspects of counter poaching i.e. security, intelligence gathering, patrolling and response, basic veterinary & military response and crime scene management.”

Saving Private Rhino’s intelligence has also lead to the arrest of the suspects involved in a R30 million ivory smuggling ring. The ivory found was the result of over 100 elephants having been killed. After having spent over half a million rand on private investigators and forensics, they were also able to find and arrest the poachers responsible for the slaughter of the Aquila rhino in 2011, as well as being instrumental in the arrests of several drug and illicit sharkfin operators.

Although Aquila’s exact security systems are confidential, Derman says that despite the fact it is very difficult and very expensive to protect rhino on Aquila’s 10000-hectares conservancy, no expense is spared. Aquila has armed anti-poaching teams, forewarn systems, night and thermal binocular and weapon systems, and numerous other surveillance and reaction infrastructure and services.

To learn more about the Saving Private Rhino project or to donate contact or call 021 430 7289.


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