The primary protection effort for the Lowveld rhinos is made by the private sector custodians of the rhinos, while the Lowveld Rhino Trust performs a supporting role in various aspects of the Lowveld conservation effort. This includes an independent ‘auditing’ role, through intensive rhino monitoring, based upon individual rhino identifications.
Despite 2015 being a year of overall population decline, it ended with some significant successes against well-established poaching syndicates in Save Valley and Bubye Valley conservancies. Amongst those arrested was one hardcore poacher who, after decades of poaching activity, was finally convicted to a jail sentence of 20-35 years (depending upon whether he pays compensation for four rhinos which he admitted killing).
It is significant that none of the main syndicate poachers who were arrested come from local communities, and the hardcore poachers in fact include a Zambian component. This information gives further reason for the Lowveld Rhino Trust’s ongoing emphasis on engaging the generally law-abiding communities in the Lowveld in productive partnerships for rhino conservation.