GKEPF assists member reserves with both fixed and rotary wing air mobility assets. This support provides a more affordable and sustainable approach to law enforcement operations in the combined area.
GKEPF currently has two fix wing aircraft, a Jabiru and a Savannah. The aircraft are operated by a team of highly experienced volunteer commercial pilots. Both aircraft can accommodate an array of sensors and are fitted with larger tyres for optimal operation on short unprepared runways. With low stall speeds of between 25-40 knots and an endurance of more than 6 hours, the aircraft provide both preventative and reactive counter poaching patrols, as well as, command and control during incident responses to the GKEPF Reserves.
Since early 2014, Doug and Judy Woodgate, the owners of Tsitsikamma Crystal have been donating a contribution from every bottle of their spring water sold to rhino protection. The Tsitsikamma Crystal funding, administered by GKEPF, is the primary source of funding for the operating costs of these aircraft.
Helicopter operations are made possible by a number of committed and dedicated local commercial helicopter operators who provide the essential rotary wing tactical mobility for K9, Ranger Follow-Up and Waylay Teams during counter poaching operations. These services are often sponsored for counter pacing operations, or offered to the GKEPF reserves at subsidised rates or at cost.
GKEPF recognises the value of air assets as a force multiplier in counter poaching operations. GKEPF is intent on increasing this capability over time and on developing a night flying and observation capability in the near future.
Tsitsikamma Crystal remains a valued contributor to GKEPF Air Operations.