Security and Protection

Securing Biodiversity: A Comprehensive Approach to Protecting Rhinos and their Habitat


Care for Wild has implemented a comprehensive security strategy to protect our rhino population and conserve the habitat and biodiversity of the Greater Barberton Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga.

We employ a complex and multi-dimensional approach, which includes a criminal intelligence network, electric fence systems, strict gate regulations, and 24/7 patrols by trained Rhino Monitors and Guards, K9 Units, and Mounted Rangers. In addition, Care for Wild utilizes various technologies such as cameras, thermal imaging, sensors, and artificial intelligence to enhance situational awareness and make informed decisions in real-time.

Care for Wild works closely with the surrounding community to ensure the long-term success of our conservation efforts. We have adopted an inclusive approach to working with communities in the Barberton Nature Reserve area, which has high levels of poverty and unemployment. By offering training and employment as well as developing projects with equitable benefits, we are building strong relationships between the protected area and neighbouring communities, and enhancing the long-term protection of greatly needed biodiversity.


K9 Unit

Our K9 Unit is an integral element of our anti-poaching team, consisting of highly trained and qualified tracking, detection, and apprehension dogs that secure the rhinos and other wildlife in the Protected Area. Working in tandem with our elite Mounted Unit, the K9 Unit patrols fence lines and secures perimeters and access points.

Our K9 Unit handlers take great pride in their work, building strong relationships with their dogs based on trust and mutual respect. We use a range of breeds, including German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois, specially selected for their intelligence, trainability, and suitability for working in challenging terrain.

Our continuous investment in the training and development of our K9 Unit guarantees that both the dog and handler are always at the forefront of anti-poaching efforts and that they play a significant role in safeguarding wildlife in the region.

In addition to training, we also prioritize the health and well-being of our K9 Unit by providing routine veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and exceptional health care and diets to ensure they remain in top physical condition. We understand that a healthy dog is an essential part of an effective anti-poaching team, and we spare no expense in ensuring our dogs are healthy and ready to carry out their duties.


Mounted Unit

Care for Wild's Mounted Unit is a highly effective element of our security and protection strategy. The Mounted Unit is particularly effective in areas where conventional modes of transportation, such as vehicles, are unfeasible or inadequate. Horses can manoeuvre through difficult terrain, enabling riders to monitor wildlife activity and patrol remote regions. They can also cover greater distances than foot patrols, extending surveillance to regions that are more vulnerable to poaching.

After completing Ranger Training, Mounted Unit recruits undergo a further comprehensive three-month training course covering aspects such as horse handling, dismounted and mounted tactics, physical and mental resilience, and communication. The recruits are trained to operate in different patrol types, from long-range to attacking, and how to take orders from ranking troopers.

The horses of Care for Wild's Mounted Unit receive excellent routine care, including regular shoeing, vaccinations, and dental checks. They are provided with a balanced and nutritious diet, ample rest, and recovery time to maintain their health and stamina. The care and attention given to the horses reflect our commitment to animal welfare and the importance of their role in the success of our anti-poaching unit.


Rhino Monitors

The invaluable expertise and extensive experience of our Rhino Monitors, many of whom have been part of Care for Wild since its inception, serves as a crucial asset in the protection and monitoring of rhinos. Drawing upon their diverse backgrounds, including ex-military personnel and former herdsmen from our local community, they bring unique skills and knowledge to the sanctuary. The Rhino Monitors’ deep understanding of the ecosystem and wildlife is utilized not only to ensure the well-being of released rhinos but also to contribute to the broader conservation of biodiversity. The relationship between the rhinos and the Rhino Monitors is remarkable. Equipped with tablets integrated with EarthRanger, our Rhino Monitors gather data on rhino behaviour, wildlife activity, and sanctuary ecology, enabling real-time analysis and monitoring. Their role is paramount in maintaining the safety and welfare of rhinos while preserving the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

EarthRanger & Technology

EarthRanger is a software platform that is being used to support security efforts at Care for Wild. The platform integrates various technologies such as GPS tracking, remote sensing, and data analysis to enable real-time monitoring and management of wildlife and security operations.

EarthRanger also provides advanced analytics and reporting capabilities, enabling the team to analyze data on wildlife movements and security incidents to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement. This information is used to develop targeted interventions and improve security strategies to protect the animals and staff at the sanctuary.

AI-Enabled Tracking Collars

Rouxcel Technology is a conservation company specializing in the design and deployment of rhino collars which detect and transmit abnormal rhino behaviour in real-time. The system consists of two main components, namely AI-Enabled Rhino Collars and a Private LoRa Network. The Rhino Collar design includes smart algorithms which continuously monitor the rhino’s behavior. An alert is generated in the event of abnormal behavioral activity which pinpoints the incident location via GPS.


PTZ cameras, trap cameras, and thermal imaging cameras are tools used to aid security at Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary. PTZ cameras allow remote adjustment for 360-degree monitoring of the sanctuary's perimeter. Trap cameras are discreet and capture photos or videos of wildlife and potential intruders. Thermal imaging cameras detect heat signatures and are effective in monitoring the perimeter at night. These technologies enable real-time detection and response to potential threats, ensuring a safer environment for wildlife conservation.


The use of drones at Care for Wild has proven to be a game-changer in the fight against wildlife crime, providing numerous benefits in our anti-poaching efforts. Drones equipped with high-resolution cameras and thermal imaging sensors can cover vast areas of terrain quickly during the day or night, providing real-time video footage of wildlife and potential threats directly to the Operations Centre.

Horn Trimming

Horn trimming, previously referred to as dehorning, is one layer of protection in a complex and multidimensional security strategy at Care for Wild. Horn trimming is a tightly controlled and regulated process in which a part of the rhino's horn is removed to deter poaching attempts. The following Q&A has been compiled to provide further insights into this necessary evil.

  • What is dehorning?

    Dehorning is a controlled and regulated process carried out by qualified veterinarians, involving the safe removal of a large part of a rhino's horn. Its purpose is to deter poaching attempts. It is important to note that the entire horn cannot be removed as the base of the horn covers the nasal cavities and contains a blood supply and nerve endings.

  • Does the rhino feel pain during horn trimming?

    Rhinos do not feel pain during dehorning as the procedure is performed under sedation or anaesthesia by a qualified veterinarian. The process is carefully controlled, and steps are taken to ensure the rhino's safety and well-being throughout the procedure.

  • Is dehorning a one-time procedure?

    Dehorning is a regulated procedure that requires permits to remove and transport the horn. Only qualified and registered veterinarians can perform the procedure.

  • Who performs the dehorning?

    Dehorning is a regulated procedure that requires permits to remove and transport the horn. Only qualified and registered veterinarians can perform the procedure.

  • Are there any health risks to the rhino during dehorning?

    Sedation and underlying medical issues can cause complications. Therefore, dehorning is carried out by a highly qualified and registered veterinarian and supported by a well-trained and professional team.

  • Does dehorning affect a rhino's ability to defend itself?

    Dehorning can impact a rhino's ability to defend itself from predators and other rhinos. Hence, it remains a controversial topic, and the decision to trim horns must be made after careful consideration in each protected area.

  • Does Care for Wild keep the horns on-site?

    No, the horns are not kept at Care for Wild. They remain the property and responsibility of either South African National Parks (SANParks) or Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) and are removed from Care for Wild premises.

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