From January to the end of June 2022, 82 rhinos were poached for their horns in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. A devastating loss for the country and one that can be avoided through increased support to the outfits who are working so hard to protect the species on the ground. While conservation within Kruger Park is the overarching responsibility of SANParks (South African National Parks), it is significantly bolstered through smaller, privately-funded units such as JEMU.
The Jock Environmental Monitoring Unit is a non-combative monitoring unit that provides section rangers with current and accurate information on suspicious, potential poaching, activity in Jock Lodge ‘concession area’ and wider IPZ (Intensive Protective Zone). This includes the detection of unidentified vehicles and people on foot. The 6000 ha of unspoilt bushveld that surrounds the lodge is a popular place for animals therefore seeing a higher density of rhino and other species, which, in turn, makes it a popular place for poachers. This hotspot needs protecting at all hours of the day and keeping watch 24-7 helps to ensure there is a quick response to investigate any issues and deter poaching efforts.
JEMU’s mission is to reduce the number of poaching incidents in the region, creating a safe sanctuary for rhinos. They do this using camera surveillance and SORAI sponsored the installation of trap cameras throughout the concession for the Unit to keep a safe watch on the animals and protect them from harm. As part of their Concession Contract, JEMU is tasked with monitoring the cameras 24 hours of every day and immediately reporting any suspicious activity to section rangers so that other counter-poaching units or personnel can be deployed to where unusual activity has been detected.
Not only rhino, the JEMU Unit was formed to monitor species such as lion, wild dogs, Ground Hornbill and cheetah in the region. All collected data assists teams of conservationists in managing the poaching crisis and the information captured on film is paramount in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade.
JEMU received certificates of appreciation in both 2017 and 2019 from the Managing Executive KNP at the Kruger Awards for their contribution to rhino conservation and here at SORAI, we are delighted to be a part of this award-winning initiative.
For more information about JEMU and other projects launched by Jock Lodge to protect the wild, please visit https://www.jocksafarilodge.com/blog/preserving-and-protecting-a-unique-wilderness/.