BAN's World GazetteerFrance
South African National Parks (SANParks) has taken delivery of a factory-new AS350B3e helicopter with night flying capability, as a result of funding from the US-based Howard G Buffet Foundation.
Chairperson Kuseni Dlamini says that SANParks received an initial grant funding of USD 21 million from the foundation in 2014 to support anti-poaching operations in Kruger National Park. This was used to purchase the first helicopter in September 2014.
Then the foundation granted SANParks an additional USD 3.1 million to purchase a second AS350B3e with similar specifications, to further increase the capacity of SANParks' rhino anti-poaching flight operations in the park. “The helicopter is expected to improve our response time in dealing with incidents in the park,” says Dlamini.
“Our anti-poaching teams require round-the-clock assistance, and this helicopter will provide quick tactical response, particularly during darkness, where we have been lacking due to limited resources. It is only proper to thank HGBF for bringing this much needed resource to our fight against poaching.”
SANParks is also in the process of applying and evaluating various technologies that include unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). “We are investigating the effectiveness of various UAV technologies as instruments in rhino protection efforts under a range of operational conditions,” Dlamini adds.
“The project will run for a year and by the end of this period we will have a lot of information about the use of available techno-logy in anti-poaching operations, in order to make an informed decision on what is best for our environment.”