South Africa's war on rhino poachers has been given a boost by the use of retired race horses.
There are obvious advantages to this tactic:
- There is a height advantage
- More terrain can be covered on horseback before getting tired
- Horses can go where vehicles cannot
- They're silent as compared to vehicles
- Ex-racehorses are given a new usefulness
In Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa, project ex-racehorse is still in the experimental stages, but thus far no rhino has been poached on the reserve since the new practice was put into effect.
"I just saw a gap in the market here. I thought we could introduce ex-racehorses that some of them don't have other uses for an anti-poaching campaign and it seems to be working.
We find that the poachers are very aware that they're here. And, you know, they're a little bit scared of them, because racehorses have a reputation as being these big fearful things. And so, you know, they are quite nervous about them."
Given that the number of rhinos killed last year set a new national record with nearly 950 successful poachings, something new had to be tried. Rangers weren't sure how the horses would work out since they were in a new environment and around animals they had never seen before. However, they have performed "remarkably well," and, hopefully, will continue to help stave off would-be poachers.