A project that needs no introduction in Namibia and receives quite a bit of international coverage and yet I feel that in order to cover all Namibian projects, I need to cover the Save the Rhino Trust as well.
A quick history:
Save the Rhino Trust was founded in 1982 with the mandate to monitor and conduct research on the desert-dwelling rhinos in the Kunene region. With support from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, WWF, IRDNC, NACSO, conservancies and local community members, SRT is proud to be part ensuring that the rhino population has grown and expanded over the past three decades.
Save the Rhino Trust is the only rhino conservation group in Namibia that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
The Current Poaching Issue
Through strategic partnerships within Namibia and internationally, SRT has raised the profile of this conservation effort to an international level. As a result, many other species in addition to the black rhino, have flourished in the region. The Kunene Region is now the leading example of eco-tourism in Southern Africa.
SRT provides consistent patrolling and monitoring of the black rhino in the Kunene, particularly within the tourism concessions. Several teams of trackers based in vehicle, helicopter and on foot patrol the area and perform the necessary activities. These activities along with community interactions are the absolute heart of the SRT. Teams must be well supplied with equipment and supported to be able to spend maximum time in the field. While at the same time, maintaining and enhancing data flow so that the database and detailed knowledge of the rhino, their whereabouts, challenges and community support activities as maximised.
It is important to keep in mind that SRT is operating in an area totalling more than a million hectares that has no national park status, few fences and no entry or exit control measures in place.
Against this background, the recent upsurge in rhino poaching, driven by the illegal trade in rhino horn, has now reached alarming levels. SRT strongly believes that the most cost-effective means of reducing the poaching threat is maintaining a consistent on-the-ground presence while ensuring that local people are engaged and benefit from rhino. It is clear that in order to protect the black rhino and continue to have their habitat open, communities must see direct benefits and be directly involved in their protection.
Save the Rhino Trust has been receiving valuable and direly needed funding from USFWS (United States Fish and Wildlife Services) for more than five years. Their funding was utilized for our main field operations and capacity building for SRT staff as well as for the Community Game Guards. To successfully implement our new structural change, we would be requiring additional funding to sustain our added Anti-poaching programme which will enable us to adapt and intensify our efforts in the face of the current poaching threat.
It is with the Anti-poaching programme in mind, that we want to ask every individual, organisation and company to be part of this effort to protect these incredible creatures. Every bit of support is valued and we ask that you spread the word as far and as wide as possible.