Boots on the Ground – Anti-poaching in action
Officially launched in 2018 by Angie Willemse, non-profit organisation Boots on the Ground supports wildlife and rangers across South Africa in a bid to stop poaching.
“Our wildlife warriors and protectors put their own lives on the line for that which cannot protect itself – wildlife,” explains Angie, who was born in Vienna, Austria, and raised in Greece.
Whilst rhinos are Angie’s passion, Boots on the Ground helps any species in need and currently has projects in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the Western Cape.
In Limpopo, the organisation supports a horse-based project which supports small and medium-sized game farms by looking for snares and animals that have been caught in them.
In Mpumalanga, it supports Friends of Wildlife Management. “We have a hands-on approach, but also help with equipment,” says Angie. She explains that the organisation saves, rescues and relocates wildlife and dehorns rhinos in need of protection.
“We are also handling the funds for a Ground Hornbill project and a Black-footed Cat project in Loskop, Mpumalanga, in partnership with Germany’s Zoo Magdeburg. We were able to help with much-needed items for the team in charge – Friends of Wildlife Management. Cages were built and containers and equipment to build proper enclosures for both projects were bought. We also organised much-needed masks for rhinos (for darting and dehorning), boots and uniforms and we assist with manpower when needed,” says Angie.
Another project that Boots on the Ground supports is Tracking & Conservation K9, which is located in the Waterberg. The organisation trains sniffer and tracking dogs for the Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands, Lewa Game Reserve and many others. “We assist with anything that’s needed, from helping with training to sponsoring equipment and feed,” says Angie.
As for the future, the organisation plans to build its own anti-poaching training unit and help a small unit to establish itself to help rangers with recurrent training. “We would like to help a lot more with training, equipment and support,” says Angie.