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.
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 R324,061.00
This grant has since been used to establish a state-of-the-art operations room on the Reserve. Panel members from the MyPlanet Rhino Fund, along with the Chair of the MyPlanet Rhino Fund, Pieter Twine, were present at the unveiling of a plaque on this prestigious occasion.
The MyPlanet Rhino Fund was established in 2011 and, to date, with 50 000 MySchool members supporting the fund as one of their beneficiaries, over R25 million has been paid out in support towards best practice initiatives in rhino protection and conservation. Partners such as Woolworths, Loot, Engen, and many more contribute a small percentage of each member transaction to the program.
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.”
“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.