On the black markets in Southeast Asia, rhino horn is reported to be worth more than gold. As a result, widespread poaching has decimated rhino populations around the world, including in South Africa—home to three-quarters of the world’s rhino population. The situation is urgent: if poaching continues at its current rate, it is estimated that rhinos may become extinct within the next 20 years.
You’ll join scientists in a wildlife reserve in South Africa to create a robust anti-poaching plan to protect the reserve’s population of white rhinos. You’ll help collect data on rhino locations, behavior, and habitat use. This work will allow researchers to best understand where rhinos are most likely to be found within the reserve—information critical to effectively protecting these unique animals from poachers. Additionally, you’ll help reserve staff practice their responses to poachers in “simulated poacher incursions,” allowing them to test and compare methods of locating poachers within the reserve and find the fastest method to respond to poaching threats. These data will allow scientists to update the reserve’s current management approaches to reduce risks to rhino populations. Beginning in 2023, volunteers will also help to address questions such as: Are sound deterrents that emit high frequencies effective at keeping rhinos from entering areas of high poaching risk? How do rhinos respond to the warning calls of other bush animals?
Observe rhino daily either from a game viewer or on foot while observing many other species of South African wildlife—study rhino behavior, record their GPS locations, and monitor their feeding habits. Through these activities, you will inform efforts to conserve and manage rhino populations in South Africa.