FOUNDERS PERSONAL MESSAGE
Gary Stone came to South Africa from Australia in 2011 after a career in the Australian Army and as a Park Ranger to help in the counter poaching fight. Here he met and married Anna Harris a beautiful, professional and strong South African woman who was heavily involved in orphan and gender equality development programs in her own right.
In 2013, Gary and Anna established a company called Environmental Security Division (ESD) in response to a growing international need to combat animal poaching and in 2014 established RhinoGuard a Charitable Trust (Non-Profit Organisation), and Public Benefit Organisation. RhinoGuard is administered by ESD, who also cover ancillary expenses such as vehicle costs, rent, power and water etc. The focus of RhinoGuard is to utilise donor funding as a mechanism to be able to provide rhino counter poaching services to private rhino owners in South Africa, who would otherwise not be able to afford protection for their rhinos.
Even though ESD charges for its Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) services, the need for counter poaching activities far exceeds the willingness or capability of private owners or government agencies to cover the costs required to sustain such critical services. To that end;
- Gary and Anna have input their own money from other sources to ESD to subsidise rhino protection, thereby placing themselves in debt and this money has now run dry.
- A substantial funds deficit has now appeared in order to provide appropriate equipment and training in regard to advanced firearms training for ESD APU operators.
- ESD / RhinoGuard may donate services however, our scouts with boots on the ground 24 x 7, have their own families to protect and provide for.
A secondary objective of ESD/RhinoGuard when established was to provide meaningful employment and training to people in impoverished rural areas, a goal which has been achieved to a small extent. However, what this has meant is that ESD has been required to train individuals from scratch and not draw on people with pre-existing qualifications, thereby significantly increasing training costs. Formalised training which is outsourced to accredited training providers and paid for under the normal operating budget of ESD is:
- Security Training to meet the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) registration requirements. Approximately R4 800.00 per person.
- Firearms Training for Business Purposes, to enable employees to obtain a South African Police Service (SAPS) Firearms Competency (Permit to carry and use a firearm). Currently R5 200.00 per person.
- First Aid Level 2. Currently R1640.00 per person.
ESD is required to conduct all other tactical training itself to bridge the knowledge gaps. The most intense and expensive of this training is proving to be the advanced firearms training. Essentially once an ESD/RhinoGuard operator has his SAPS Firearms Competency, it really equates to having a Learners Drivers Permit, so they need much more training and experience. Key Advanced Firearms Training subjects that ESD provides so that its APU operators can safely and effectively perform their jobs are:
- Firearm Safety Principles. Additional safe weapon handling skills above and beyond that taught for achieving a competency standard. This also includes specific legal rules of engagement and escalation of force.
- ESD Standard Weapons. Advanced training on operating, maintaining and understanding the standard ESD weapons which consist of Pepper Pistols (non-lethal), 12 gauge pump action shotguns, AK-47 derivatives and 9mm Self Loading Handguns. Includes static range practices with all firearms.
- Tactical Shooting / Training. This is the most intense and expensive component of the training.
HELP US, HELP THEM
ESD requires approximately R258 185.00 (AUD $26 869.31, USD $21 718.52) to fully equip and train the current and future APU operators as shown in the table below. Under the current financial conditions, ESD would take several years to acquire all of the required equipment to ensure that its employees are adequately trained to enable them to protect themselves, their team mates and the rhinos.
Therefore, we have taken the decision to attempt to raise some money to speed up the training process to ensure that our APUs and rhinos remain safe.
We are also extending protection services to the rural community of South Africa – this tactical decision is an extension of the APU training program.
Some Costs Covered in the table below;
As you can see and appreciate – the costs to provide such services is significant. Our team, our RhinoWarriors and our Scouts and most importantly those we protect would be greatly appreciative of your generous assistance to help us fight those that cant protect themselves.