SANParks, together with the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, is taking the war against rhino poaching to a new level – literally. The Seeker Sunbird is a new, state-of-the-art reconnaissance aircraft, designed for aerial surveillance of rhinos in the Kruger National Park, the area hardest hit by poaching.
Speaking at the unveiling, Dr David Mabunda, CEO of SANParks said, ‘We anticipate that by the end of this calendar year we will have lost about 650 rhinos throughout South Africa. To date 598 rhinos have been lost to poaching, 364 in the Kruger National Park alone.’ Read our reports about the shocking rhino poaching figures here.
“Enough is enough; the mindless slaughter of rhinos in the wild has called for a multi-pronged strategy. We are actively enlisting and broadening our engagement with the private sector to protect and conserve wildlife. We will find the right solutions and fight this war. The strategy is to reach out to a new set of stakeholders that would complement and fundamentally strengthen and provide the necessary intelligence to our existing efforts. We are very happy to announce that the Ichikowitz Family Foundation is contributing to conservation in the Kruger National Park for the benefit of the country’s heritage.”
Ivor Ichikowitz, chairman of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, is also the executive chairman of Africa’s largest privately held defense and aerospace company, Paramount Group, and he had the following to say. ‘Advanced visual reconnaissance and surveillance will provide game reserve rangers with robust intelligence in their tireless mission to confront poachers.’
Mabunda stated that SANParks is ‘honoured to join forces with the Ichikowitz Family Foundation because this surveillance solution gives our rangers just the right kind of support they need to win the war and it brings us one step closer to ending the devastation of our rhinos.’
He does, however, admit that South Africa still has a long way to go before rhino poachers would be eradicated entirely. Let’s all hope that this new solution will bring us a few steps closer to the ultimate goal.
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