We protect hundreds of rhino on many thousands of acres of African wilderness, where they live a wild and free life, as nature intended.
Click to watch a video showing how our rhino remain wild and free, living amongst a full spectrum of native wildlife, on land that has been transformed from agricultural wasteland back to beautiful African bushveldt.
Our reserve protects an entire African ecosystem that includes an abundance of wild and endangered species like leopard, pangolin, and many more. The animals benefit from wide open space, ample food and water, and an intense perimeter security system that protects them from poaching. As a result of this natural environment, their numbers are increasing rapidly.
In fact, our rhino population has grown at 20% every year since the inception of the reserve. That means our rhino population doubles every four years. Our leopard population has gone from zero to 16 in just the past four years, and our pangolin are simply too numerous to count.
We have taken land that was used for agricultural purposes for well over a hundred years, and returned it to a fully natural state, with an ever-increasing population of the wildlife our world needs to protect. This is conservation, funded entirely out of our own pockets.
So what is 'Captive Breeding'?
According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species ("CITES"), we are 'captive breeding' - saving a species by breeding it in a protected environment.
"Captive Breeding" is a beautiful idea, with terrible marketing. The very words conjure images of cages and feedlots. The truth includes none of that.
In the CITES context, the phrase is simply a legal definition given to those operations that work to increase the population of an endangered species, in an environment designed to protect them and provide for their needs.
To be clear, some Captive Breeding Operations (a.k.a. "CBOs") exist for purely commercial purposes, breeding animals for slaughter and utilization. Examples would be the reptile farms that provide skins for luxury goods. Such operations are not aimed at conservation, although their capacity to supply demand without harvesting wild stock can serve an important conservation purpose.
Other CBOs - like Black Rock Rhino Conservation - exist first and foremost for conservation purposes. Under guidance from South Africa's National Biodiversity Institute - the country's officially designated CITES Scientific Authority - reserves like ours exist to increase the numbers of rhino alive today. Killing the animals in our care would violate our core mission.
No matter what language is used to describe our work, you can see for yourself that this is conservation at its most beautiful. And it is working.
Are rhinos ever confined to small areas?
Reserves like ours are not zoos, or roadside attractions. The rhino under our protection roam freely over vast tracts of land. Often, we have to search pretty hard just to find them, as one can see in the picture shown here. (Hint: He seems to be taking 'the road less travelled.')
Having said that, every once in a while we face an accuser who claims that rhino are kept in small and crowded enclosures,
No. They are never put in an enclosure. They are certainly NEVER restricted to a cage.
and they point to pictures like the one below, in which a number of rhino are gathered together (and can even be seen eating from a trough) as evidence in support of their accusation that we operate feedlots filled with rhino. But that isn't a feedlot, it is an area of thousands of acres, with rhino roaming freely across that land. Every rhino in that picture walked as far as they needed to, so they could be at this location, at this time. Their reason was simple: This picture was taken late in the dry season, almost all the good grass was gone, and the rhino were hungry. In nature, some might die before the rains come and the grass returns. It is
our mission, as conservationists, to help them get through these hungry few weeks, so we drop high-protein food concentrates into concrete troughs for the rhino to eat, and we place those troughs in easily accessed areas of the reserve, so that every hungry rhino knows where to go for a meal if the grazing has been inadequate that day. This keeps them healthy and strong, and makes it more likely that the new rhino calves will survive the season.
Only those who are new to rhino conservation could mistake pictures like this as evidence of a feedlot. Those whose lives are committed to saving these beautiful beasts know that such pictures show nothing more nefarious than our best efforts to keep the rhino in our care well fed, and safe.
Perhaps the full story is best demonstrated in the video below, where we can see both the dire food shortages these animals can face at certain times of year, and the the reality of wide
open spaces in which the rhino remain free to roam, and into which they will disappear once again as soon as their needs have been met.