Artists and environmentalists start conversation about conservation 

Art has a key role to play in supporting and promoting conservation, particularly in Southern Africa. This was the core premise of a thought-provoking event called “Art and Conservation – a Southern African Dialogue” held at the Alliance Française in Johannesburg on 15 June.

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3 ways Dingo is flipping the traditional approach to conservation – with results

“It doesn’t matter how noble or noteworthy your conservation message is, if nobody is hearing it, it will make no difference to our natural world.” – Dingo Dinkelman

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Western Cape reaches conservation milestone with Sanbona’s registration as non-profit corporation

Conservation history has been made in the Western Cape with the registration of Sanbona Wildlife Reserve as a non-profit company, following its rezoning from agricultural to conservational use.

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Casting a bright light on the sustainability of rhino sanctuary

Bright Light Solar and the STS Group is casting light onto conservation by donating a fully funded off-grid solar and battery storage solution for Care For Wild Rhino Sanctuary

Bright Light Solar and the Sectional Title Solutions (STS) Group of companies are casting light onto conservation efforts, by donating a fully funded off-grid solar and battery storage solution to the largest orphan Rhino sanctuary in the world, Care For Wild Rhino Sanctuary (CFWRS). Environmental stewardship is a longstanding focus for Bright Light Solar and the STS Group of companies, and they are both thrilled to collaborate with the sanctuary in this solar energy system feature.

The threatening situation of deforestation, climate change and the poaching scourge has left and continues to leave behind young, defenseless, orphaned Rhino. Bright Light Solar, in conjunction with the STS Group, has stepped in to ensure the sustainability of one of the world’s largest specialised Rhino conservation facilities with a completely off-grid solar PV implementation that will cater to the sanctuary’s day to day power and water necessities. The array will be fully operational from June 2021 and will generate a power saving of a whopping 41 760 kilowatt per hour of electricity each year. The sanctuary was previously running a combination of expensive generators coupled with a small but inefficient solar and battery solution. Mainly due to unpredictable fluctuating costs of fuel and not being eco-friendly, the setup was unsustainable. The 26.1kW PV system donated by Bright Light Solar and the STS Group consists of 58 x 450Wp panels on an existing workshop roof and a 59.2kWh battery solution.

Michael Faber, Director of Bright Light Solar, says, “by helping protect Rhinos, we’re helping to conserve their habitat for the benefit of people and other wildlife, making sure natural resources are available for generations to come. Solar is the obvious choice when wanting to cut back on costs while contributing to the green economy and using solar for the direct benefit of the conservation of Rhino’s is a no brainer.”

“We are in the last minute of the last hour to save the planet. We must put nature at the front of every decision we make. Through the renewable energy of solar, provided by the STS Group and Bright Light Solar, we can move another step closer in our responsibility to protect mother earth for future generations. Good partnerships like this help us to reach our goals and achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. This is very exciting for us.” Petronel Nieuwoudt, Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary Founder and CEO.

This massive undertaking will roll out in a phased approach. The first phase of the implementation, focusing on the house and office areas, commenced with the delivery of a 45kVA 3phase fully insulated container integrated with the existing 45kVA generator complete with cooling, lighting, filtered vents and complemented with eight 7.4kWh free issue batteries.

The second phase of the implementation will focus on the actual Rhino pens, Bright Light Solar will install a 5kVA phase one enclosure system complimented by two 7,4kWh in two off wall cabinets. The team will build a carport structure that will house twelve 450Wp modules integrated into a generator for low state of charge (SOC) assist. For lighting, eight 4.8m height street poles will be erected, complete with PV modules, 20W LED flood, charge controller, lithium battery and RF/PIR/manual switching sensor.

Post the arrays in the Rhino pen, the team, will relocate and upgrade the existing system, which entails the decommissioning and moving of the modules to the entrance gate and guardhouse, remounting modules on the corrugated roof short rail structure with the existing AC/DC equipment and new batteries, and lastly reconfiguration and firmware updates before recommissioning.

The last phase of the implementation, which is the most significant, is the installation of 24 450Wp modules to 10.8kWp on a ground mount structure, connected to a 7,5kW drive and integrated with the generator for the water pump.

“We’re passionate about solar and the benefits it has for our country and the planet. We see choosing solar over conventional energy solutions as a “win win-win” scenario where you get to cut costs while contributing positively to the environment – leaving a lasting green legacy for future generations to enjoy. Future generations inherit all the results of the decisions we make today, playing our part to conserve one of the Big five for future generations is an honour” says Johnny Wates, Chief Executive Officer of STS.

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Mysterious death of Botswana’s elephants being investigated

In recent reports, Botswana has had to requests be done to determine what is killing hundreds of elephants in the Okavango Delta region. Tests that were sent to Zimbabwe have arrived in Botswana while they await tests to arrive from South Africa. 

Samples were collected and sent to Zimbabwe and South Africa to determine the cause. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to delays in the samples being sent out.

A senior official in the Environment and Tourism Ministry, Oduetse Kaboto, recently stated in a televised briefing that once all the results have been received they would be able to find definitive answers.

“We have to wait for another set of results and reconcile the two to see if they are saying the same thing before we come to a definitive conclusion,” said Koboto.

Public outcry over Elephant deaths

Botswana officials were compelled to act when photographs of the carcasses were widely published. The country has an elephant population of more than 130 000 which makes it a popular tourist destination for wildlife lovers. In the Okavango Delta, more than 280 elephants have died. The region is home to approximately 18000 elephants. 

According to one of the co-founders for the National Park Rescue, Mark Hiley, the first elephants started dying in May. To date, officials have found elephants have died. The Botswana government has been criticised for not acting sooner to discover the cause of these deaths. 

“The government would normally respond within days to an event of this scale. Yet here we are, months later, with no testing completed and with no more information than we had at the start,” Hiley said. 

Poaching & Anthrax ruled out

Officials have been able to rule out poaching and anthrax poisoning as the cause of the elephant deaths. The acting director of the department of Wildlife and National Parks, Cyril Taolo, stated that the carcasses had been found intact and that the tusks were not missing.

“We do not suspect poaching since (the) animals were found with tusks,” Taolo said.

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