The CSIR has converted a standard 4×4 trailer into a tactical unit to be used by the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency in clandestine counter-poaching operations.
The trailer was originally donated by Jacaranda FM’s Purple Rhino Project to StopRhinoPoaching.com, who then donated it to the provincial conservation and tourism agency for use in counter-poaching activities.
“When we were approached by the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency to help upgrade the trailer, it was natural for us to work with the Technology for Special Operations (TSO) group through our partnership with the CSIR. We requested them to assist us with sourcing the right equipment, as well as assisting with the electronic design,” said Elise Daffue, founder of StopRhinoPoaching.com.
The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency has established a special counter poaching team, which operates clandestinely in rhino reserves in the province. Rangers, in groups of five, are often deployed for days at a time in areas without any infrastructure. The standard Jurgens trailer needed to be modified to offer specialised support for these teams. The requirements included a mobile electric fence that would offer protection from wild animals, accommodation, water and storage for cooked food for five days.
“Up to now, we have had to make do without the most basic facilities when in the field. This trailer will have a major impact on the performance of rangers, as well as allow them to work in areas previously too remote for extended deployments,” said Juan de Beer, manager of the Species Protection Unit of Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency.
On the work Chris Serfontein, TSO manager said: “After consulting representatives from the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, we finalised the user requirements and completed the design and layout of the trailer for long-term use in the field by rangers on counter-poaching missions.”
The trailer is now fully equipped with basic equipment to improve the quality of life of deployed rangers, such as shower, cooking facilities, wash basins, freezer/fridge combo, safe storage, gas bottles, dome tents, a silent fossil fuel generator and solar panels.
Other technologies were also implemented to optimally equip the tactical trailer, such as the installation of communication systems and power supply units. Camouflage netting was provided to conceal the trailer during counter-poaching operations.
During an informal handing-over ceremony, the ranger tactical trailer was presented to representatives from the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency and is now being used in counter-poaching operations in the province.
“It is amazing to see so much extra effort being put in by people who care about the crisis our rhinos are facing. The CSIR’s level of expertise, their professionalism and the short period of time they took to put the trailer together are commendable,” Daffue said in appreciation of the effort.