Poster (Mpho) Malongwa Wins Rhino Conservation Award
Wilderness Safaris is proud to announce that Poster (Mpho) Malongwa, Rhino Monitoring Officer for the company’s successful Botswana Rhino Reintroduction Project, has won the 2014 Rhino Conservation Award for Best Field Ranger. This was announced at the third annual Rhino Conservation Awards gala dinner held at the Montecasino Ballroom in Johannesburg last night, to coincide with the celebration of World Ranger Day (31 July 2014).
Mpho, fondly known by most as “Poster,” is an ardent campaigner for rhino conservation and was recognised for his tireless efforts in monitoring the wild rhino of northern Botswana over the past 15 years. Poster has played a vital role in ensuring the ongoing success of Wilderness Safaris’ Rhino Conservation Project, which has seen the re-establishment of viable breeding populations of both white and black rhino in the Okavango Delta’s Moremi Game Reserve.
He has also been a pivotal player in the company’s latest reintroduction of a small founder population of Endangered black rhino that took place in the first quarter of this year, in a joint collaboration with the Botswana and South African Governments. “Botswana’s increasingly important role and achievements in the conservation of both black and white rhino in Africa was strongly acknowledged at the awards ceremony, with three stalwarts of the country’s rhino conservation efforts nominated in three of the six different categories in the awards, winning two of them”, says Keith Vincent, Wilderness Safaris Chief Executive Officer. “We are incredibly proud of Poster and grateful for his long-standing and passionate commitment to Botswana’s wild rhino.”
His Excellency the President, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama was also recognised for his pivotal and far-reaching role in Botswana’s rhino conservation successes, winning the category ‘Political and Judicial Support.’ Map Ives was nominated for ‘Best Conservation Practitioner’ in his joint role as Wilderness Safaris Botswana’s Environmental Manager and the National Rhino Coordinator for Botswana.
Summing up what the award meant to him, Poster said, “This award is not just for me, but for Wilderness Safaris and my country” – a sentiment no doubt shared by both the President himself and the National Rhino Coordinator as well.
The Rhino Conservation Awards are a collaborative initiative by The Game Rangers Association of Africa and the South African Department of Environmental Affairs. It aims to give recognition to those who work tirelessly and selflessly in the fight against rhino poaching in Africa, and in doing so, raise awareness for what is being done to ensure the survival of Africa’s rhino.
- Wilderness Safaris is an ecotourism company that specialises in memorable wildlife experiences in some of the most remote and pristine areas in Africa. In this way it offers its guests private access to three million hectares of Africa’s finest wildlife reserves, while remaining fiercely committed to protecting our planet’s precious natural and cultural resources.
- Wilderness Safaris operates camps and safaris in some of Africa’s best wildlife and wilderness reserves across nine different countries: Botswana, Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
- Recognising that conservation is as much about people as about the environment, the company has pursued important goals through its Children in the Wilderness programme, as well as through the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, which have helped change the face of nature-based tourism in Africa.
- Wilderness Safaris firmly believes that its single most important achievement to date is to have built a sustainable business model that does not compromise environmental principles and which provides jobs, training, skills, careers, adjusted horizons, hope and a realistic alternative to less sustainable development.
- Wilderness Safaris is part of the Wilderness organisation, a group of responsible ecotourism companies and conservation and community development vehicles that together endeavour to use responsible tourism to build sustainable conservation economies in Africa.
About Botswana rhino conservation:
- By 1992, Botswana’s rhino population had decreased to 19 white rhino, with the black rhino classified as “locally extinct.” At this time, all wild rhino were captured and moved to safe enclosed areas, thus rendering both species extinct in the wild in Botswana.
- The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) then began working together to create one of the finest anti-poaching operations in Africa, a development which allowed the Botswana Rhino Reintroduction Project to follow suit as a joint initiative between Wilderness Safaris and the Botswana government. Under this scheme, a founder population of white rhino Cerathotherium simum simum was translocated from South Africa into the Okavango Delta in November 2001. In 2003, a small founder group of south-central black rhino Diceros bicornis minor was introduced into the same area.
- While the white rhino population thrived over the following decade, it became clear that there was a need for further black rhino reintroductions in order to create a viable breeding nucleus. This became a primary objective of Wilderness Safaris in a multi-stakeholder project that included fundraising by the Wilderness Wildlife Trust and Rhino Conservation Botswana, negotiations between the governments of South Africa and Botswana and the generosity of various private individuals and state-owned parks.
- In the first half of 2014, three additional reintroductions of black rhino into the Okavango Delta took place. This delicate operation involved the staff of South Africa’s SANParks and North West Parks, the Botswana Defence Force, Department of Wildlife and National Parks Botswana and Wilderness Safaris.