SanWild protects Rhino with militairy precision

The wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre SanWild in South Africa runs a very effective growing rhino protection program to ensure the safety of a number of rhinos on private land. The program is simple, effective and runs with militairy precision. The objective is to keep individual rhino safe and alive, no matter what the cost.

SanWild started up a rhino guard volunteer program in which chaps that can add serious military training and active duty to their resumes are invited to join us and team up with the local counter poaching teams to ensure the protection of rhinos.  The wildlife centre follows a strict screening process in which prospective rhino guards are screened in advance to ensure that they have the ability to deal with potentially dangerous situations and also to ensure that they pass a security clearance.  In this program there is no place for those simply seeking a cheap volunteering holiday.  At SanWild they know from experience that at this moment in time the only effective and sure way to protect a rhino’s life is to put a well-trained trustworthy and committed armed guard with the rhinos 24/7 day and night.

Tracking, moving and keeping up with wild rhinos and staying out of their way at the same time while also having to avoid other potentially dangerous wild animals such as elephants, lions and buffalo is really no easy task. The international volunteers are therefore relying heavily on locals to keep them safe, teach them the ways of the wild and help them adjust their training to meet local bush conditions.  At the same time the locals can benefit from learning serious hand to hand combat techniques, military discipline and dedication.  Together these guys form a formidable team and are prepared and equipped to meet any potential rhino poacher head-on and my bet is that the rhino poachers will come off second best.

In order to move around with the rhinos and keep their presence secret, the teams are small and rely heavily on their bush survival skills.  For the duration of their patrols they disappear into the bush and only themselves and the rhinos (that soon learn to accept the guys’ presence) know that they are around.  A number of guests on game drives did not notice the men hidden in the long grass or tree line while they view a rhino family lying in a pretty comfortable mud wallow.  Neither did they see the chaps when the rhinos suddenly jumped up and moved on as the wind direction changed.

The briefing to the guys is simple; stay hidden, if guests or employees can spot you so can potential poachers and so can the helicopter flying overhead.  Fortunately with some of the volunteers coming from recent active military operations and war situations, they know that to stay alive you need to be alert and this experience will prove invaluable when encountering potentially armed and dangerous rhino poachers.

Volunteers are invited to stay as long as they choose but only the one’s that can commit to at least four weeks at any given time are considered.  They can send a full CV along with recent digital photographs and contactable references, preferably from a commanding officer, to SanWild. The sanctuary supplies all kit and equipment along with free food and accommodation.

Volunteer rhino guards and counter poaching rangers share duties and shifts.  While on active patrol they live out in the bush and move with the rhinos when and where the animals decide to go.  The patrols are carried out day and night.  When a unit’s patrol and active shifts is over they are replaced by another team that take over at the location where the rhinos are at that given time.  Sufficient time off is arranged when volunteers and rangers return to comfortable barracks style accommodation or farm houses where they can get a hot meal and shower, comfortable bed to sleep and even a television to catch up on news from the outside world.  To allow time for these guys to rest is absolutely essential in this line of work to ensure they remain sharp and alert.  It is only with such programs that individual rhinos can be kept safe and alive until the current poaching crisis can be brought under control.

This article and the photo’s were originally published on the site of SanWild

To join the program:

If you are interested in joining the rhino protection program as a volunteer rhino guard please do not hesitate to contact us by sending an email to Louise Joubert on With your email you need to include a short CV along with a recent digital photograph, contactable reference, a copy of your passport and the time period (dates and duration) that you are willing to volunteer.  Once your application has been screened and approved you will be notified to what particular farm you will be allocated and the prevailing situation on the ground.  No telephone interviews will be done, neither do we accept “casual volunteers” for rhino guarding.  No applicants under 25 years of age. This is really a great and exciting program to join and will allow ex-military guys the opportunity to gradually fade back into a normal life in a unique and beautiful environment while doing your bit to conserve one of Africa’s icon species.


  1. Beste 1000x Afrika,

    Ik ben de nieuwe stagair van Bikes ’n Wines.
    Bikes ’n Wines is een bedrijf dat mountainbike tours geeft door Stellenbosch. Bikes ’n Wines bied verschillende tours aan waaronder een familie tour, een city tour en een adventure tour. Buiten het fietsen (tussen de 9 tot 21 KM) door de wijngebieden bezoeken de gasten ook verschillende wijn boerderijen om wijn te proeven. Ook is er gedacht aan de kinderen die druivensap kunnen proeven en verschillende dieren kunnen zien.
    Nou was mijn vraag of jullie misschien iets over ons bedrijf willen schrijven op jullie website of twitter.
    Voor meer informatie kunnen jullie mij altijd mailen;

    Met vriendelijke groetjes,

    Steffanie Bakker
    Bikes ’n Wines

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