Zululand
ZAP-Wing aircraft grounded
13:02 (GMT+2), Wed , 10 September 2014
Zululand
ZAP-Wing is a partnership between Project Rhino KZN and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and provides both general aerial surveillance patrols and reaction support to 26 game reserves in Zululand utilizing both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters
Larry Bentley

THE Zululand Anti-Poaching Wing (ZAP-Wing) Cheetah aircraft, was forced to make an emergency landing at Mduna Royal Game Reserve during a routine rhino anti-poaching air patrol on Monday.

The pilot and a ranger from Mduna Royal Game Reserve walked away with minor injuries, but the aircraft sustained substantial damage.

A ZAP-Wing helicopter was dispatched to assist with the location and support for the crew, along with management and staff from Thanda and Mduna Royal Game Reserves who reached the crash site within minutes.

The pilot was examined by a Hluhluwe doctor who treated him for minor abrasions.

The Mduna Royal staff member did not require medical attention.

Plans are already in place to replace the aircraft so as not to disrupt aerial anti-poaching surveillance.

‘It was with great shock that we heard of the downing of one of the surveillance aircraft that forms the aerial anti-poaching wing of Project Rhino KZN this morning,’ said Carl Grossman, Chairman of the African Conservation Trust, a founding member of Project Rhino KZN and ZAP-Wing.

‘We are all grateful that both pilot and observer walked away from the wreckage relatively unscathed and will be back in the air soon.
'This incident highlights the daily sacrifice, the dangers faced, and the commitment of both rangers and ZAP-Wing pilots in this bloody war on rhino poaching.’

Warren Beets, Reserve Manager for Thanda and Mduna Royal Game Reserves said, ‘This is just one example of how reserve staff and ZAP-Wing pilots put their lives on the line every day to protect our rhino.’

Investigation


The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been informed and as there was no loss of life or serious injuries, it is unlikely that the CAA will conduct an official investigation.

However ZAP-Wing, in conjunction with the aircraft manufacturer, will conduct its own investigation as to the cause of accident.

The Cheetah aircraft was airworthy and licensed with all relevant aviation authorities in South Africa.

The pilot holds a commercial pilot’s licence and is rated to fly the Cheetah aircraft and has undergone extensive ZAP-Wing training.

‘We are proud of how our pilot handled a very challenging situation,’ said Etienne Gerber, ZAP-Wing’s Chief Pilot.

ZAP-Wing is a partnership between Project Rhino KZN and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and provides both general aerial surveillance patrols and reaction support to 26 game reserves in Zululand utilizing both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

The Cheetah aircraft provides daily aerial surveillance for 17 private game reserves.

ZAP-Wing thanks everybody who responded to the emergency, as well as to everyone who contacted us out of concern for the pilot and the observer on board.



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