Lapalala Wilderness Reserve is a 45 000 hectare declared nature reserve with just over a 114km boundary within the Waterberg Biosphere. With a rich history of conservation and conservation education dating back to its establishment in 1981, it is managed on behalf of its patrons and custodians by the Lapalala Wilderness Foundation. Lapalala Wilderness Reserve, along with Welgevonden Game Reserve and Marakele National Park, form the backbone of the Waterberg Biosphere.
In 2020 Lapalala Wilderness Foundation CEO Glenn Phillips, in response to increasing poaching threats, was tasked with developing a revised area integrity strategy that sought not only to enhance its approach to combating poaching but reserve management in general. One of the key elements of the strategy was to establish an Operations Room in an already existing rangers’ base and to equip it with relevant state of the art systems and technology to provide reserve management and rangers on the ground with the real-time situational awareness required to combat poaching.
MyPlanet Rhino Fund
The MyPlanet Rhino Fund was approached to provide the required funding. A grant application was approved and an MOU was signed between the Lapalala Wilderness Foundation and My Planet Rhino Fund awarding Lapalala Wilderness Foundation a grant of R324,061.
This grant has since been used to establish a state-of-the-art operations room on the Reserve and, panel members of the MyPlanet Rhino Fund, along with the Chair of the MyPlanet Rhino Fund, Pieter Twine, were present at the unveiling of a plaque at the Lapalala Operations Room.
The MyPlanet Rhino Fund was established in 2011 and, to date, over R25 million in support towards best practice initiatives in rhino protection and conservation has been paid out, with 50 000 MySchool members supporting the fund as one of their beneficiaries. Partners such as Woolworths, Loot, Engen, and many more contribute a small percentage of each member transaction to the program. Conservation organisations submit a grant application to the MyPlanet Rhino Fund and a panel of conservation leaders assesses each application on merit. Each project is monitored for successful completion and sustainable impact.
The MyPlanet Rhino Fund supports organisations dealing with rhino conservation, securing populations, equipment, technologies, training, detection, and management of rhino populations.
Twine explains: “The MyPlanet Rhino Fund’s main purpose is to provide supplementary funding towards best practice initiatives in rhino conservation and to strengthen rhino conservation efforts and build conservation capabilities across southern Africa. The MyPlanet Rhino Fund is one of the biggest supporter-driven fundraising initiatives focused on rhino protection.”
On the 28th of February 2023, Lapalala Wilderness Foundation unveiled a plaque acknowledging My Planet Rhino Fund’s contribution to Lapalala Wilderness Reserve’s ongoing work in rhino conservation.
“Thanks to The MyPlanet Rhino Fund, Lapalala Wilderness Reserve has taken a leap forward in real-time situational awareness and has a central point for the collection of data from our conservation team and field rangers on the ground as well as various technology platforms and external sources. In addition to this, it enables us as a team to share incident information and intelligence with the other key reserves that form part of the Integrated Waterberg Wildlife Protection Zone” concludes Glenn Phillips.