Its activities range from anti-poaching actions in the field and landscape-level wilderness management to developing young conservation leaders from disadvantaged communities. In 2011 WFA launched its ‘Forever Wild Conservation Programme’ as a response to the rhino poaching crisis. Two years later the programme was expanded to include lion, leopard, elephant, gorilla and shark initiatives.
The Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative has four key elements: anti-poaching activities, security and law enforcement enhancement, public awareness, and demand reduction in user countries. On-the-ground actions include assisting police departments and security agencies, rescuing and treating injured rhinos, and supporting anti-poaching capacity in rhino hotspots with vehicles, equipment, supplies, dog units, and air support.
Tusk has provided funds for the Aerial Support Wing of the rhino programme. This conducts security and monitoring exercises over several protected areas with increased activity in high-risk periods and very visible patrols over high-risk areas such as public roads and reserve boundaries. Activities also include locating individual rhinos, assisting dog units and taking part in multi-agency operations to combat a range of wildlife crimes.
The rhino crisis in Africa in a real and immediate threat, and decisive action is needed to tackle it. The concerted efforts of WFA, and the crucial support of the Aerial Support Wing, provide the level of protection that the situation demands. Ongoing support is needed to ensure that their vital activities can continue.