When a birthday rolls around, we love to celebrate! Of course, every birthday is special, and we do our best to come up with something unique to mark the day. Sometimes we create a delicious birthday cake. Sometimes we make a fantastic birthday dinner. And this time, we chose to mark the day with a Rhino notching!
This weekend, our founder Ed Zeeman’s celebrated his special day with us at Morukuru Family Madikwe, and he chose to spend his day supporting the Morukuru Goodwill Foundation (MGWF). The MGWF was founded in 2007 by Ed & Anka Zeeman, owners of Morukuru Family, and has many goals, including, but not limited to, wildlife conservation. Statistics reveal that Rhino are currently being poached at a rate of three per day which translates into the terrifying prediction that this species will be extinct by 2023! The Morukuru Goodwill Foundation (MGWF) is actively involved in rhino anti-poaching initiatives, the rhino notching programme, and other ongoing conservation programmes.
Ed told us, “It was such a lucky coincidence that while I was here at Morukuru, a young male rhino needed to be notched. Notching involves marking the rhino ears and inserting a chip into the horn, allowing conservationists to record information about individual animals such as territory, age, and birth rate. Plus DNA samples are taken and recorded during the notching operation which can be used as evidence in rhino poaching criminal proceedings
Ed was visiting Morukuru Family Madikwe to host the group’s management team. Ryno van der Elst, our General Manager from AtholPlace House & Villa in Johannesburg, travelled to the bush to meet up with his colleagues and was able to join Ed and the others on the rhino notching mission. He told us,“It was a truly amazing experience, not only to witness it but also to see the dedicated people involved in the execution and to learn from them. To share it with the team for Ed's birthday made it even more memorable.”
As one of our General Managers at Morukuru Family Madikwe, Anne-Marie Steyn calls the 76 000 ha of the Madikwe Reserve home and lives conservation every day. She said, “Our MGWF is involved with diverse rhino and wildlife protection projects. I will always remember this particular project because my young son was able to share in the experience. His pure excitement from seeing the Helicopter take off to be able to touch a Rhino. This is what Conservation is all about. The passion that we all have for Conservation and knowing the owners feel the same makes me proud to be part of this amazing property and team.
Rinse Wassenaar, our Marketing Manager who had escaped the chilly Netherlands to join the team and share the latest travel and tourism initiatives, was moved by the occasion and shared that “ it was a dream come true to witness a Rhino notching. The team and the vet provided a huge amount of information and made the whole experience very educational.”
Rhino notching is one of the main ways in which we support rhino conservation. Another valuable way in which we can react against poaching is to support the anti-poaching teams. April Knight, our head of reservations, told us, “Generous guest donations are invested in training and equipment, and I felt honoured to be invited to be part of the experience, and it truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So interesting. Making memories with my Morukuru Family.”
The MGWF has provided rangers with intensive training from the specialised Wildlife Protection Academy, which develops anti and counter poaching, armed combat, and bush survival. “The rhino notching experience is truly bucket-list stuff! A once in a lifetime experience to get up close and personal with such gentle giants. It is not just about protecting and tagging these animals but about being a true guardian of nature,
” added Trevor van Laun, GM Morukuru Family De Hoop.
Everyone agreed that it was a huge privilege to be part of this rhino notching operation. It was a fitting way to honour Ed's birthday. It was decided that the calf be named Eddy to mark the occasion. Ed received a plaque and rhino statue from the North West Parks board to top it off to thank Morukuru Goodwill Foundation for their huge contributions and ongoing support for nature conservation.