Since May 22 2022, local community members have been getting to know their new rhinos through the Cobras Community Wildlife Unit of local scouts, through school children and through visits to the Imvelo Ngamo Sanctuary.
Video footage by Tomas Trayner and Duncan Watson. Editing by Tomas Trayner
The reason CRCI is so unique is because of the people: the people living on communal land that have willingly allocated part of their grazing land to rhino and their conservation; the people who come from the local villages that have trained hard to become Cobra scouts; the people who, years ago, once saw the rhino in the area; the people who have trusted the potential for tourism and conservation to provide them and their children with socio-economic opportunities.
Every tourist paying to come and walk with the rhinos, hear about CRCI (its origins and ambitions), and spend some time with the Cobras, pays a gate fee and a conservation fee. The gate fee, in its entirety, goes to the communities for them to assign to whatever project they deem necessary. Other community and donor projects will persist independently, but the communities will have complete control over how to spend the funds generated from their rhinos.
Local headman, community and traditional leaders, as well as school children, teachers and village elders, have all lined up to visit their two new rhino. Local people are enthusiastic, hopeful, excited and, in certain cases, a bit scared. Some of them have never seen a rhino, while others remember them roaming around in villages, curious but not burdensome. But one thing is for sure: Thuza and Kusasa have become the local celebrities - school kids talking about them in between classes, villagers wanting a sneak peak, and the scouts watching them, with pad and paper, 24 hours a day, recording their every move.
So what now? CRCI keeps engaging more and more people and school children, from more and more areas, and is working with village leaders to collaboratively design the Initiative's development going forward. This is a ground-breaking model in which communities are at the centre of conservation decision-making.
Contact us for more information on the CRCI project.