The poaching of black rhinos for their horns has been recorded back to 1200 B.C, when the horns were used as wine cups for the wealthy. The horn remains a valuable component in traditional medicines, despite having no actual medicinal value. The horn can sell for up to $30,000 a pound, but it cannot be measured against the life of a rhino. Every rhino matters, from horn tips to the rope-like tail, and with a gestation period of over a year, the population cannot easily replenish itself. It's clear that rhinos need help, and that people must step in to attempt to rectify some of the damage poaching has already wrought.
After completing a degree in Conservation Ecology at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape, Simon Morgan moved to Zululand where he spent four years tracking black rhino as a wildlife monitor and collecting data for his PhD degree. After completing his degree and realizing the gaps between research and management, he co-founded a wildlife monitoring organization with the aim of facilitating adaptive management oriented monitoring systems for threatened species. Wildlife ACT currently runs ten wildlife monitoring teams across four countries, assisting government conservation authorities, community owned wildlife management areas, the private sector and conservation organizations with the management, implementation and funding of these teams.
With the current scourge of rhino poaching, the rhino monitoring work and the facilitation of rhino projects in Southern Africa has become even more of a focus than before. Wildlife ACT has assisted with the rhino monitoring work and reintroductions for the WWF-Black Rhino Range Expansion Project around South Africa for the last ten years and has also help fund or bring expertise for rhino monitoring and security in Tanzania, Malawi and Namibia. Realizing that the poaching fight was not going to be won only from the field, Simon further founded a community conservation education project which works with one of the few communities in South Africa that own rhino, helped co-found Project Rhino KZN. Simon firmly believes that demand reduction initiatives like this are the only key to sustainable long-term reductions in the trade of illegal wildlife.