Unique Ear Notching Trip

Updated 12 October 2022

You’d have read that we fund the annual ear notching/calf naming in August. This is all explained in the article below by Heather Atwell and Lynn Johnson, based on their personal experiences. Why not sponsor a rhino name for $2,500, help the project grow, and have the pleasure of following your rhino’s growth and progress in the years to come? 41 members have done this before. We have eight names still available so contact me quickly please.
And, we have six places available where you can spend five days in the field with the vet team, and see all this happening in real time. We depart in mid August, with Qantas, have six nights in Save Valley Conservancy, a night at the Bronte on the way there and back, and then home or go somewhere else. This wonderful experience is a mere $7,275, all inclusive. Express your interest now, please! Please read on.

Protecting rhinos is difficult and the starting point is to know just which individual you are actually looking at.
For many years now, the SAVE African Rhino Foundation together with our members and supporters have covered ear notching operations in several locations in Zimbabwe. So, just what’s in a notch?
Ear notching, where a one-off pattern of notches is cut out of a rhino’s ear, means that each individual rhino can be tracked and monitored for its lifetime, with all sightings and locations recorded.
Sightings can be fleeting, with ears spotted over the top of dense vegetation, and often from a distance. Rangers must be ready with their cameras to photograph the notched ears, as there is no room for uncertainty when tracking rhinos. Regular sightings are required to comply with population audit conditions, and if the time between sighting an individual rhino is a little too long, the security team make finding the elusive rhino a priority, starting in the locations the rhino has historically been sighted.

This system is essential to accurately record the population and verify the safety of the rhinos.

But ear notching goes beyond security, it enables the health of the rhino to be monitored and veterinary care to be deployed quickly when needed. It is also used to ensure that the genetic diversity of key rhino populations is maintained by monitoring rhino interactions, together with the removed ear notch providing a sample for the ever-growing rhino DNA database.
Ensuring the genetic diversity of Zimbabwe’s rhino population is of growing importance. In the last 12 months Zimbabwe reached a wonderful milestone, with the country’s rhino population numbering more than 1,000 for the first time in 30 years.
Now the overall population numbers are much brighter, key is to ensure genetic diversity remains strong. In the future, individual rhinos will need to be relocated between populations within the country. Ear-notching is a key part of the growing strategy to maintain a genetically strong rhino population.

All this explains why the ear-notch is top notch in securing a long-term, positive future for rhinos in Zimbabwe and beyond. Which is why SARF needs your help for the 2023 rhino ops in SVC. There are at least 17 young candidates, in the 18-30 months age bracket, who are ready for ear-notching.

And, while the pandemic has meant that SARF hasn’t had the opportunity to fly donors to Zimbabwe to be a part of this rare privilege for the past two years, we are very excited that this year there just a few opportunities will be able to be offered for notching donors to be present and observe this critical activity taking place.

The experience of observing “rhino ops” firsthand is never forgotten. Once the immobilising dart has taken effect and the rhino goes down, the veterinary team moves in, the rhino is blindfolded, and his ears are blocked to reduce distress as much as possible while they work quickly to get the job done. The team’s work is over in a matter of minutes, the immobilising reversal drug injected and the rhino watched from a distance until the vets are happy it has fully recovered from the operation.

SARF is very proud to be play a small part in this critical work, which is why we this year we are again putting out the call to our supporters to help with the 2023 rhino ops.

Join Ross and Jacky, and the many other SARF donors who have rhinos named after them roaming the magnificent parks and conservancies of Zimbabwe. This is a great way of making your rhino conservation commitment truly personal.

Contact Nicholas ASAP to sponsor your rhino’s ear notching, chose a name and express your interest in being on the ground to see the whole procedure taking place!

1. Sponsor a rhino’s name for a tax deductible $2,500.
2. Attend five days of expert rhino management and game viewing, and maybe christen your own rhino, just $7,275