Aquila Private Game Reserve is proud to announce the birth of a baby white Rhino at the reserve near Touws River in the Western Cape on the morning of 13th October 2015. This new addition to Aquila’s Big 5 is the first rhino to be born at Aquila in 10 years. The first rhino born in the Western Cape for the past 250 years was born at Aquila in 2005.
After the major poaching incident in 2011, during which 3 rhino were attacked, Aquila was left with no male rhino to continue its breeding programme. One rhino was saved, another was brutally killed and the third rhino, known affectionately as Absa, fought bravely for 5 days before succumbing to his gruesome injuries. Absa had been the first rhino to be reintroduced to the Western Cape in 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. “In 2011, poachers slaughtered the first rhino reintroduced to the Western Cape in 250 years since they were shot out by colonial hunters. Not only did they kill that rhino, but they also killed its baby, which was the first rhino born in the Western Cape in 250 years”, says Derman
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.” His plan has now culminated in the first birth. Derman says “The birth of our new baby rhino has increased our population to 6 rhino and we are hoping that the other 3 females are also pregnant which will mean an increase to 9 in the next few months”
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.
Aquila Private Game Reserve
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