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The AMES Foundation and Their Fight Against Rhino Poaching

Rhino on the AMES Reserve

Join us in learning more about the AMES Foundation and their fight against Rhino Poaching in South Africa.

Who is the AMES Foundation?

Rhino Ames
Rhino walking on the Dabchick reserve. Photo from the AMES Foundation.

The AMES (Africa’s Most Endangered Species) Foundation is a German non-profit organization working against the exploitation of African Wildlife. Since they originated in 2020, they have built a global network of guardians aiding the conservation of wildlife in South Africa. Refusing to sit back and watch as the earth gets exploited and animals go extinct, they take active steps to solve these problems. 

What do they do? 

As an impact organization, one of the AMES Foundation’s main priorities is animal welfare. They protect animals against poaching and possible extinction by creating secure areas (reserves) in Southern Africa by gaining legal control over these areas. In these safe havens, animals can roam freely and be protected from harm. Built on their belief that the more secure and protected habitats are available, the more animals can roam in these areas. They also equip anti-poaching units and their reserves with innovative technology that allows them to efficiently protect the animals and areas they roam. Another goal in this area is to influence political work and jurisdiction on the ground for the sake of animal conservation. 

They also prioritize regeneration with rehabilitation centers where they give animals a second chance when released into the wild again. Restoring biodiversity one animal at a time. 

The AMES Foundation is also a big supporter of sustainability. By involving locals in the areas of their reserves, they create jobs and educational opportunities such as beekeeping and APU (Anti-Poaching Unit) training,  whereby they supply legal and sustainable income sources in southern Africa. Their priority of working closely with the local community also reaches into the safety of the animals by educating locals on the importance of animal conservation and its benefits. 

Where are they?

The first AMES Foundation reserve is found in the Waterberg Region in the northern part of South Africa. Here they carry out many conservation, rehabilitation, and animal welfare projects. However, where exactly they are located and what exact species roam here is not shared lightly, in an act to protect the safety and livelihood of the animals. They also work with the EHRA on maintaining a comprehensive approach to the conservation of desert elephants in Namibia. 

Learn more about the AMES Foundation and what they do by listening to our podcast. 

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Throughout the rest of this article, we take a look at what this non-profit organization does in their fight against rhino poaching, why it is important, and what you can do to help. 

Why is Rhino Poaching a Problem? 

Rhino and rescuer bond
Rhino and Rescuer Share a Tender Moment of Affection. From the Herd Elephant Orphanage South Africa YouTube.

What is Rhino Horn Used For?

Let’s start with what rhino horns are used for, as it is the reason behind rhino poaching and their plummeting numbers.

Rhino horn has been an ingredient in many Traditional Chinese Medicines for as long as 2000 years. Despite the lack of concrete evidence suggesting rhino horn – made of keratin, the same as human fingernails – has any medical value it is believed to treat various ailments. Owning a rhino horn, or ornaments or jewelry made thereof, is seen as a symbol of wealth. 

Contrary to popular belief, rhino horn is not used as an aphrodisiac. However, this unfortunate rumor has caught the attention of many in Vietnam who are subsequently using it for this reason. In Vietnam, it is also believed that the consumption of rhino horn elevates one’s social status among peers, again being a symbol of wealth and success. 

“It is heartbreaking to realise that the world’s rhinos are being eliminated from the face of the earth in the name of medications that probably don’t work.”

Richard Ellis

What Is Rhino Poaching’s Effect on the Rhino Population? 

South Africa is home to the largest white rhino population (about 12,968)  in the world and around two-thirds of the black rhino population (about 2,056) on the African continent. Since the start of the South African rhino poaching crisis in 2007, almost 10,000 rhinos have been poached, with 231 poached just between January 2023 and June 2023. With less than 27,000 rhinos (all five species combined!) left in the world, the protection of the species is utterly important to reduce their risk of extinction.

What does Rhino Poaching entail? 

white rhino
Two white Rhinos. Image Credit: Lyndsey King

Due to the unfortunate continuous demand for rhino horn, its scarcity, and inconsistent availability, the price thereof is worth more than its weight in gold. Making rhino poaching a lucrative business for those involved. 

It is important to understand that rhino poachers are professional criminals, not laymen, supported by international gangs and crime syndicates. As it takes vast amounts of planning, funding, manpower, and weapons to execute this ordeal. These crime syndicates supply poachers with advanced technology to track and find rhinos, tranquilizer medication (which is strictly regulated), vehicles, escape plans, and weapons that they are ready to use – making them all the more dangerous to anti-poachers risking their lives to protect the rhinos. 

Poachers often shoot the rhinos with tranquilizers to knock them out while they cut off their horns. These rhinos are then left where they fell, to wake up and bleed to death. A slow and painful end to an undeserving and magnificent creature. 

What the AMES Foundation is Already Doing in their Fight Against Rhino Poaching? 

Rhino on the Dabchick Reserve. Photo from the AMES Foundation

Understandably, the AMES Foundation does not want to declare the exact tactics and resources available in their war against rhino poaching, but they were willing to share a broad overview of their multi-layer anti-poaching efforts.

For threat detection, they make use of cameras with number plate recognition on district roads. Flagging suspicious vehicles as potential threats before they reach the reserve. They have built strong relationships with the surrounding communities – ensuring the locals understand the importance and benefits of conservation. As for on the reserve, they use cameras, AI, and drones with thermal technology to assist with real-time threat detection. 

When a threat is detected it is backed up by the swift action of the Anti-Poaching Unit. 

The Impact of Dogs in the Fight Against Rhino Poaching

Portrait of two white (square-lipped) rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), South Africa from

The AMES Foundation does not have tracking dogs yet but is planning to add them to their Anti-Poaching Team. A K9 unit has immense value in the fight against poachers, as they are fast and efficient trackers – much faster than a man tracking through the bush on foot! They also introduce an element of fear (imagine a pack of hounds chasing you down) that could prevent poachers from entering protected areas. 

What Readers Can Do to Help

If you want to help support the AMES Foundation in their fight against rhino poaching and many other animal welfare projects, conservation efforts, and habitat rehabilitation projects, you can do so on their website

A Final Word on the AMES Foundation and Their Fight Against Rhino Poaching

Armed guard and one of the last northern white rhinos
An emotional photo of an armed guard and one of the last northern white rhinos Credit: Historic Vids @historyinmemes X

Knowing what we know now about rhino poaching and the dangers it holds to both the species and the people fighting against it, we are grateful for the immense conservation efforts by the AMES Foundation. This is an issue that can’t be ignored, and we believe that as humans we must do what we can to help, whether it’s through donation or spreading awareness of the dangers rhinos face daily.

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