The core team of the Rhino Rescue Project consists of co-founders Dr. Charles van Niekerk and Dr. Lorinda Hern as well as technicians, Dean Riley-Hawkins and Gavin Sterley and assistant veterinarian, Dr. Shaun Beverley. In addition, our team comprises marketing – and communications manager, Suzanne Boswell, and administrative assistant, Taryn Forfar. Further, we work with a number of specialists who have assisted us with our research and in developing the infusion – and other evolving devaluation technologies.
Charles holds a B.V.Sc. degree from the University of Pretoria and has been a wildlife vet since 1998. He is also the managing director of Wildlife Assignments International (Pty) Ltd. He has had the privilege to work with nearly all the Southern African wildlife species (from a veterinary and translocation point of view) over the last 17 years. He became interested in using rhino horn infusions to deposit ecto-paraciticides in the horn to manage uncomfortably high tick loads in captive rhino populations. He immediately saw the potential of evolving this technology as a horn devaluation technique and joined forces with Lorinda in founding the Rhino Rescue Project.
Lorinda’s interest in the rhino poaching crisis was prompted by a poaching incident on her family’s property in 2010. Having grown up with the rhinos on the property, the loss was deeply shocking and Lorinda set out to find a proactive anti-poaching solution. She decided to partner with Dr. Charles van Niekerk, who was already investigating rhino horn infusion when she approached him in 2011. Lorinda works full-time on the Rhino Rescue Project. She has Masters degree in Strategic Marketing Management from the University of Pretoria (UP) as well as a research doctorate (PhD) in the same field from the London School of Economics. She still lectures part-time at the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at UP.
Dean Riley-Hawkins, game capture – and RRP devaluation expert has personally conducted and/or overseen the infusion of every animal treated by the crew to date. His keen eye for detail and intuitive understanding of animal behaviour not only keeps our staff safe on treatment sites, but has also allowed us to amass a tremendous amount of data on the composition and structure of rhino horns, which is now forming the basis of our ongoing research. With more than 10 years experience in the conservation industry, both internationally and locally, Dean’s knowledge of working with South African wildlife makes him a valuable asset to RRP and a crucial member of the team.
Shaun Beverley, the newest member of the RRP team, graduated from the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Veterinary Sciences in 2011. Focused almost exclusively on providing veterinary services to the wildlife industry, Shaun is passionate about making a difference in the fight against rhino poaching – as is evident from the compassion he exhibits towards every animal the team works on.