South Africa’s rhinos just got themselves a new defender. American philanthropist Howard G. Buffett, son of business magnate Warren Buffet, pledged $23.7 million to help South Africa’s Kruger National Park in its fight to combat rhino poaching. The contribution, the largest of its kind, will go toward securing more rangers and sniffer dogs on the ground, while aerostats, infrared camera-filled balloons will monitor the land up high.
The plan is set to take place over three years, and ranges over a third of the national park. The high security will be enforced near the park’s southern borders, where poachers from Mozambique have crossed over, resulting in an increase in rhino deaths over the past decade.
“This is a massive boost to anti-poaching efforts to protect rhinos in South Africa after more than five years of a devastating wildlife crime wave in the country that has led to the killing of some 2,747 rhinos,” said Crawford Allan, wildlife crime expert for WWF and TRAFFIC, in a press release.
Rhinos have been the target of illegal poaching due to the high demand for their horn, which is thought to provide medicinal, healing powers and is considered a status symbol. Since January of this year, 172 rhinos have been poached with 113 of those rhinos living in Kruger National Park.
“The use of high-tech solutions combined with strong enforcement on the ground can be crucial to end this crisis and tip the balance in favor of rhinos and not poachers,” said Allan.
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