Magic Hills Game Reserve in the Karoo has launched ‘The Unique Horn Project’, a crowdfunding campaign to save the Black rhino amidst fears of a rise in poaching post-COVID.

As with many other private and national game reserves, Magic Hills funds its conservation efforts using proceeds from running its hospitality establishments.

With the tourism industry grinding to a halt during the pandemic, so has the funding required to continue conservation on the reserve.

The reopening of international borders and the rising value of rhino horn may see an increase in poaching over the coming months. To raise the funds needed to confront the possible surge in rhino poaching, Magic Hills has launched a crowdfunding campaign.

Funds are needed to hire and kit sufficient staff, maintain vehicles, contribute to rhino transportation and veterinary costs and to facilitate regrowth in the reserve, which has suffered over-grazing.

GM of the reserve, Declan Hofmeyr said: “A surge [in poaching] is expected. Just like the rest of South Africa, the syndicates and shooters were locked down by the pandemic, but they still have orders to fill and we were already seeing persons of interest moving between provinces at Level 2 of lockdown. As international travel now begins to reopen, it will likely go back to the pre-COVID threat level.”

Without the support of the public, many anti-poaching organisations, and game reserves like Magic Hills, are limited in the amount of care and protection that they can provide for their rhinos. The public is urged to get involved, by financially supporting a reputable reserve or anti-poaching organisation, and to report suspicious activity to the senior authority.