Cape Town, August 10, 2023
Aquila Collection is proud to have reintroduced the first rhino back into the Western Cape since its human-led, local extinction 250 years ago. In February 2005, Aquila Private Game Reserve announced the birth of the first rhino calf in the region, marking a significant milestone for rhino conservation across South Africa.
Unfortunately, in August 2011, the reserve faced a devastating poaching incident involving three rhinos, setting back Aquila’s rehabilitation efforts and leaving them without a male rhino. This devastating loss, and the horrific violence inflicted upon these endangered animals, led to the formation of “Saving Private Rhino”, a Cape Town founded NGO focused on the conservation and protection of rhinos and against poachers.
In 2014, Aquila welcomed a new male rhino bull to the family and, fast forward to the excitement of 2015 and 2016, they celebrated the arrival of four rhino calves at the reserve. These milestones highlight not only the dedication of Aquila’s rhino conservation in the Western Cape, but also the successful efforts against poaching and the ongoing work to preserve Cape Town’s wildlife heritage.
The Saving Private Rhino initiative was established with the primary goal of ensuring the future of Africa’s rhino and wildlife heritage. By offering the most comprehensive and integrated anti-poaching solution available (free of charge) to private game reserves in Africa who require assistance in defending their wildlife, the SPR organisation aims to train, educate, and equip staff to better protect and monitor their rhinos.
Aquila Game Reserve initiated the Saving Private Rhino programme, which is funded by Aquila, public contributions, and much-needeed donations. The programme has since expanded its focus to include education, rhino rehabilitation, and ‘rapid rhino response’ for private game reserves facing potential poaching incidents.
ARC, Aquila’s Animal Rescue Centre, has developed the infrastructure and expertise to care for orphaned rhinos in a safe and secure environment, providing these vulnerable calves with the best possible chance at survival. Once the orphaned rhinos are capable of feeding and fending for themselves (or have recovered from their injuries) they will be returned to their original owners or released to spacious, free-roaming, and appropriately protected game reserves.
In 2016 alone, there were 1,054 recorded rhino poaching deaths in South Africa, potentially leaving around 500 orphaned calves in need of urgent care.
The Saving Private Rhino Orphanage and Rehabilitation Centre is not open to the public, ensuring the best interests of the rhinos in terms of rehabilitation and security.
The Saving Private Rhino initiative has recognised the need for a comprehensive approach to rhino conservation, extending its efforts to encompass public and private sector collaboration. Private sector involvement has led to 33% of South Africa’s rhino population being safeguarding under private protection.
The Saving Private Rhino initiative’s award-winning conservation efforts encompass providing free anti-poaching training courses to game reserves throughout South Africa. The rescue centre, which forms a large component of our rehabilitation and conservation initiatives, is strategically situated at the base where the anti-poaching courses are conducted–which acts as a powerful deterrent to potential poachers.
This location also guarantees access to highly skilled ex-military and police personnel, firearm and anti-poaching instructors, as well as K9 anti-poaching dog handling instructors overseeing our K9 breeding centre.
The Saving Private Rhino Orphanage & Rehabilitation Centre prioritises the welfare of rhinos by remaining closed to the public, ensuring their rehabilitation and security are not compromised. The dedicated team is committed to rehabilitating and releasing rhinos that have endured severe facial and respiratory injuries due to poaching incidents.
Dr. Johan Marais serves as our Patron and National Head Vet and Wildlife Surgeon. In 2012, he founded the Saving the Survivors Initiative to care for injured endangered wildlife, particularly rhinos and elephants. He is renowned worldwide for his innovative procedures and pioneering surgeries on critically injured rhinos. Dr. Marais is supported by Dr. Doempies Trichardt from Tulbagh Veterinary Services.