Saving the Rhino Trust (SRT) have been active campaigners in the fight to save one of the world’s most endangered species for over three decades, and they aren’t about to give up now.
With poaching and habitat destruction as prevalent as ever, the battle for rhino lives continues more fervently than ever. The SRT is focussed on the unique desert-adapted black rhino in the Kunene and Erongo regions – and despite their successes in this area, their efforts remain undaunted.
Small successes in the face of big challenges
The rhino population in this remote unfenced area of over a million hectares was faced with certain extinction before the SRT stepped in and their numbers have since recovered considerably under their watchful eye.
This area does not enjoy national park status and therefore falls outside of governmental protection. With the assistance of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, local communities and NGOs, SRT has managed to stabilise rhino numbers in the Kunene and Erongo, with teams of dedicated trackers scouring the landscape every day to keep watch over the world’s last free-ranging rhinos.
The Poaching Challenge
The SRT is well aware that for every move they make, organised crime syndicates are plotting two more, with schemes to undermine their efforts, and targeting these vulnerable rhinos with cut-throat military precision.
Most African species are under threat form poaching the illegal trade with wildlife and now, these predators have swung their savage gaze in the direction of Namibia, after years of overwhelming conservation success – but Namibia is fighting back.
Evidence of this is found in the statistics. There were 60 rhinos poached in Namibia this year, compared to 24 last year, with most of these occurring within the hallowed boundaries of Etosha National Park. The government launched a massive dehorning exercise by helicopter in response to this, which unfortunately revealed several more rhino carcasses.
Hitting Back Harder
It became apparent that the SRT’s monitoring activities were no longer enough to protect their sought-after rhinos. Since SRT has no law enforcement powers, a formal Operations centre was set up in November 2014 to spearhead an ongoing multi-agency anti-poaching campaign. This involves the SRT trackers backed by Special Field Force/MET ground teams, with substantial air support, in the form of both fixed wing craft and helicopters.
The SRT Needs Your Help
The support of IRDNC, Rhino Rangers, conservancy rangers as well as private sector donors is vital to the success of the SRT in all aspects of their efforts.
- Funds are needed to train and equip the SRT teams for covert after-dark operations.
- Public support in the form of whistle-blowing. The more the SRT knows about the poachers and their movements, the more they can remain one step ahead.
- Financial support in the rewards offered for information received which leads to the successful apprehension of poachers.
- Research into the desert-adapted rhino is invaluable in planning and management of the species.
- Skills development among local communities that benefit both the rhinos and those communities.
- Public relations activities and fundraising to ensure ongoing credibility and sustainability of the SRT.
Visit the SRT website to see how you can do your bit in the fight to save our rhinos.