Wilderness & SRT announce ongoing success of community-based rhino conservation in Kunene

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Wilderness Blogger


In celebration of World Rhino Day, Wilderness and Save the Rhino Trust Namibia are proud to announce the ongoing success of their conservation partnership with local conservancies, which has seen a ‘no-poaching’ statistic remain in place in Namibia’s Kunene region for the third consecutive calendar year.



“In order to support SRT’s primary objective to strengthen rhino monitoring and protection measures in Kunene, our Wilderness Trust came on board in January 2023 to fund the purchase of a new project vehicle to be stationed in the area, and to help purchase patrol rations, fuel and to pay for vehicle repairs and servicing. The vehicle has subsequently provided much-needed support to SRT’s foot-based patrol teams, and we are proud to see the continued support from our community partners to ensure zero poaching in the region”, noted Vince Shacks, Wilderness Group Impact Manager.


The Wilderness Trust is also supporting SRT’s Community Rhino Ranger (CRR) Incentive Programme in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy. Funds go directly to the community rangers to assist with food and provisions, salaries and other necessities for the rhino monitors.


“This important programme not only results in the protection of rhino, while also expanding the range of this species, but it elevates and contributes to the community conservancy model, which has proven to be such a successful conservation initiative to date”, Vince added. 



Andrew Malherbe, SRT COO, also noted, “The request from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to replicate our rhino ranger programme at Nyae Nyae was a nod to our success in Kunene over the last four decades. New jobs linked to conservation have already been created, with more to come, and we have initiated numerous programmes to empower female rangers in the area. The community investment in the project and the expansion of rhino range continues to have a tremendous positive effect for these Critically Endangered rhinos”.


The rangers have already produced detailed rhino monitoring data which has been incorporated into the Kunene monitoring effort, with all data verified using a GPS and SMART (Spatial Mapping and Reporting Tool) enabled device. “Each sighting includes a time and date stamped ID photo of each rhino”, Andrew added. “Field incentive payments are made on delivery of patrol data to basecamp by field rangers, with the incentive being to collect robust and usable data, which in turn translates into payment for the ranger”.



SRT introduced the rhino ranger programme after poaching spiked in Kunene between 2012 and 2016. The last five-year period (2017 – 2022) has now seen a reduction in poaching by close to 80% in the Kunene landscape. “This reduction is linked to the exponential increase in field effort, showing that boots on the ground do indeed translate into reduced poaching. We believe that an important component to this achievement is that the rangers who are deployed into the field are from surrounding communities. This firmly entrenches notions of ownership and direct financial rewards and employment from the existence of rhinos”, he added.


“By working with partners like SRT, we are confident that our impact efforts will continue to make a positive difference to our last remaining wilderness areas, and the wildlife they protect. The Nyae Nyae region of Namibia has been identified as a key Wildlife Dispersal Area (WDA) for the larger Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA). This WDA offers critical ecological and, in particular, wildlife movement linkages between protected areas across the landscape. It is community-driven efforts such as this, which are key to seeing this ambitious transfrontier conservation plan come to life”, Vince concluded.


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