THE Kruger National Park’s anti-poaching unit received a new Foxbat A22LS aircraft last week - a donation from the MyPlanet Rhino Fund. Rebecca Hearfield
IN A boost for rhino protection efforts across South Africa, the Kruger National Park received a new Foxbat light aircraft, thanks to the MyPlanet Rhino Fund.

The fund announced its donations for this year and thanked the about 34 000 people who swiped their MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet cards at participating retailers. R2.94million was raised in the past year.

While there has been a slight drop in the number of rhinos poached over the past two years, the country still loses on average three scarce rhinos a day.

And both black and white rhinos remain threatened with extinction.

Rhino killings in the Kruger have marginally declined over the past two years, but poaching has increased in other areas.

Since last year, the MyPlanet Rhino Fund, administered by the Endangered Wildlife Trust, has donated over R3.5m to nine non-profit organisations engaged in rhino conservation.

More than R1.4m was allocated to SA National Parks (SANParks) and specifically the Kruger, enabling them to buy a Foxbat. The cost-effective plane will play a crucial role in monitoring rhinos, identifying and responding to threats and ensuring that the Kruger’s anti-poaching unit is better equipped to combat the increasingly sophisticated gangs of rhino poachers.

“It is with great appreciation that SANParks has received the news that the MyPlanet Rhino Fund will be donating a Foxbat A22LS aircraft,” said Steven Whitfield, Marula North regional ranger in the Kruger, who is also responsible for piloting the new aircraft.

“Over the past few years we have had great success due to our deployment of aircraft,” he said.

The Foxbat will be based at Satara.

Staff Reporter