Fighting the Rhino Poaching Crisis From The Air

Aerial Anti Poaching Patrol_©PeterChadwick_AfricanConservationPhotographer

As late afternoon approaches, Etienne Gerber walks around his light Bushcat aircraft to carry out a final safety check before climbing aboard and taking to the air over the Zululand Bushveld. He is part of a highly skilled team of pilots from the Zululand Anti-Poaching Wing (ZAP-WING) that helps in combatting wildlife crime from the air.

ZAP-WING, launched in KwaZulu Natal in November 2012, is a partnership project under the united banner of Project Rhino and the provincial conservation agency Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. Apart from the daily aerial surveillance patrols that are provided to 24 game reserves covering over 300 000 hectares, the ZAP-WING pilots also provide quick response to incidents in the field. The light aircraft used can fly at low speeds thus allowing the pilots good views of what is happening on the ground. These aerial ranger teams are making a huge and positive difference in disrupting poaching activities, thereby supporting the conservation of rhino in KwaZulu Natal.

This conservation photography project is carried out in partnership with the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) that provides support, networks and representation for game rangers across Africa. This conservation photography project will use rangers as the “lead characters” to highlight the issues faced by conservationists and showcase opportunities for improved support of rangers in the future. Positive and targeted messages will be communicated that emphasise the critical role that rangers play in African conservation in ensuring that the continent’s natural heritage is preserved for the benefit of future generations. Support Africa’s Rangers by supporting the GRAA.

Peter Chadwick is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) whose mission is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. The iLCP’s goal is to use the art of high-quality photography to encourage people to take action in support of tangible and meaningful conservation measures.

Visit African Conservation Photography for a full gallery of Ranger images.