Rhino ear notching activity 
South Africa



Rhino populations worldwide are under severe pressure from poaching due to the demand for their horn. Increasing annual death statistics show that seemingly there is no halt to this trend.


Elsewhere in Africa and Asia, Rhino populations have plummeted and in most cases become locally extinct. The success in South Africa was mainly due to intensive management and protection, and expanding the range within South Africa to areas where rhinos had disappeared. This success, however, is being rapidly undone before our eyes by the recent onslaught of Rhino Poaching, and their numbers are declining towards extinction.


The effective management of Rhino populations requires certain key elements. An individual based identification system is core to the gathering of vital biological data from ground monitoring, such as movements, home range, birth rate, inter-calving periods, associations and aggression, to name a few. With the recent breakthrough in DNA extraction from Rhino horn, it has also become necessary to add to the Rhino database genetic material collected from live Rhinos as another tool in combating poaching.


The large ears of Rhinos make it the perfect place to mark Rhinos. By cutting small V, or square shapes into the ears at certain positions, gives the Rhino an individual number. Any observation by monitoring officers of this animal into the future, together with the information that is observed, adds to that biological database.


Due to the costs involved in a Rhino immobilisation for this vital management operation, Pilanesberg Park Management has requested The Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust (PWT) to make this a project of the PWT to ensure that this function continues. The PWT in turn solicits donors to contribute to the project by sponsoring a “hands on” Rhino capture experience where guests actively take part and assist the Vet and Park crew during the operation. Excess funds are utilised for further Rhino Protection Projects through funding of training and equipment, etc.


By sponsoring a Rhino immobilisation not only do you get to experience a ‘once in a lifetime’ event, but you also contribute to the conservation, and furthered protection, of these amazing creatures.


Experienced helicopter pilot, veterinarian and Park ground crew professionally carry out the Rhino notching operation. The helicopter is used to locate an unmarked Rhino, and is the platform from which the veterinarian darts the Rhino. The helicopter is also used in guiding the animal to suitable working areas and away from danger.


Once the Rhino is adequately sedated, ground crew and guests move in on foot and carry out the necessary procedures of notching, and DNA collection.


This is an amazing experience that you will remember, and cherish, forever!