Rhino Guardians This World Rhino Day

This World Rhino Day, we are celebrating the pioneers who create safe havens for beautiful creatures. Today in particular, we hold close the mighty Rhino which is in a daily battle for its survival.

This World Rhino Day, join us in supporting the Rhino Guardians Project

In 2008, Londolozi Alumni Alex van den Heever and Renias Mhlongo shared a dream. 

Their dream was to establish an institution where the fast disappearing traditional art and indigenous knowledge of tracking animals in the wild could be taught and trained in a formal education and training environment.

With encouragement and assistance from Mrs. Rupert (Chairperson of the SA College for Tourism) who supported Alex and Renias’s shared vision, together they created and launched Tracker Academy in 2010.

Tracker Academy’s mission is to restore indigenous tracking skills for the benefit of rural people and wildlife. 

Over the last 12 years, the Tracker Academy has trained 232 professional trackers, of which 212 (94%) are now in permanent wildlife conservation jobs. 

Tracker Academy graduates have also found their way into counter-poaching units, and are assisting with animal monitoring and research. It is clear from the deployment success rate that there is a genuine need for professionally trained wildlife trackers in our industry.

2022 Tracker Academy
The 2022 Tracker Academy follows fresh tracks in pursuit of locating a leopard
Leopard Tracks B&W PT
Fresh evidence of a leopard that had just walked down the road early that morning

Londolozi is delighted to have supported the Tracker Academy from its humble beginnings, and now to the birth of this exciting next chapter. 

We are elated to share that Londolozi has once again proudly partnered with the Tracker Academy to create another incredible project – Rhino Guardians. 

“The new Rhino Guardians Project will see trackers who are trained specifically for wildlife protection, especially Rhino. This follows ongoing requests from National Parks, Wildlife NGOs, and private reserves for the Tracker Academy to train and upskill trackers to bolster protection efforts. We are now preparing trackers to prove that traditional tracking skills and ancient wisdom will be critical for counter-poaching efforts” – Alex van den Heever 

2022 Rhino Guardians
New Rhino Guardians reporting for duty. The first set of trainees on the 1st September 2022.

The Head Trainer for the Rhino Guardians is none other than Amos Mzimba. “Mr. Amos” as he is affectionately known, was born in Mozambique in 1960. During the civil war, his family moved to South Africa, and Amos began working as a tracker and field ranger in the Kruger National Park where he rose to the rank of Field Ranger Sergeant with the Special Operations Team. Amos was one of the first K9 handlers in Kruger. He formed a formidable team with “Killer”, a tracker dog with whom he developed a very special relationship. The duo was responsible for making literally hundreds of successful arrests in the Kruger National Park.

Amos Mzimba
Mr. Amos Mzimba, Head trainer of the Rhino Guardians Project

Mr. Amos brings immense experience to Tracker Academy. Amukela, Bava! Welcome, Father.

Londolozi has employed many graduates over the years, and we are thrilled to say that these gentlemen are among our top-performing trackers. These trackers spend hours out on safari each day (often in difficult conditions) and their phenomenal abilities to track, anticipate behaviour, find leopards and some of Africa’s other magnificent treasured animals is a marvel – astounding really! The infectious respect, passion, and patience these gentlemen have for the wilderness is incredible. 

Amos & Innocent
Amos Mzimba & Innocent Ngwenya (head trainer at the Tracker Academy) spend a morning tracking together

All of these young men and now women hail from rural villages around the Sabi Sands. The Academy receives over 1000 applications per course, but can only select 24 lucky candidates for the year-long course.

If you as a Londolozi guest and Blog follower would like to make a contribution or perhaps get more information about the Rhino Guardians, please contact us on ripple@londolozi.co.za for more information. 

We are all so privileged to appreciate these unique, colossal animals which have roamed the planet for millions of years. As wonderful as it is to have a global initiative like World Rhino Day that showcases the plight of these animals, the reality is that their continued protection is an around-the-clock, 365 days a year effort. It is expensive, and it takes boots on the ground! We are extremely proud to partner with Tracker Academy to ensure that for generations to come, these animals will live a protected life, and for those of you who want to join the fight please contact Alex van den Heever at the Tracker Academy to see where you can create a difference alex@nns.co.za.

This post would not be complete without acknowledging Gaynor Rupert for her vision, energy, and grace in making Tracker Academy a reality in the first place. Inkomu, Mrs. Rupert! You have made a material difference to the protection of wild animals and wild places. 

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Wilderness teachings | 18th April 2024
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