Steven Whitfield, Marula North Regional Ranger in the Kruger National Park with the new aircraft Pictures: REBECCA HEARFIELD

Durban - The Kruger National Park’s anti-poaching unit efforts have been bolstered, thanks to a donation of a brand new FOXBAT A22LS aircraft.

The aircraft was donated by the MyPlanet Rhino Fund and will play an essential role in monitoring rhinos, identifying and responding to threats and ensure that Kruger’s anti-poaching unit is better equipped when it comes to combating increasingly sophisticated gangs of rhino poachers.

Marula North regional ranger in the Kruger National Park and also pilot responsible for piloting the new aircraft and project, Steven Whitfield, said over the last few years, they have had great success due to the deployment of aircrafts piloted by rangers over the vastness of Kruger.

“Aircrafts have become irreplaceable assets enabling quick response and support to poaching incidents.  They are vital for combating poaching on many levels, improving monitoring, identifying high risk areas, patrolling remote areas inaccessible by vehicle and foot, and enhancing our rapid detection and response capabilities as poaching trends shift,” he said.

The donation was thanks to 34 000 supporters swiping their MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet cards at participating retailers. A total of R2 940 000 was raised over the past year. This is vital funding to help boost rhino protection across South Africa.

While there has been a slight decline in the numbers of rhino poached over the past two years, the country still loses on average, three scarce rhinos each day and both Black and White rhinos remain threatened with extinction in the wild.

Daily News