Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) protects the largest free-ranging population of black rhinos in the world. With no fences and no national park status, the rhinos living in the unique, rocky and dry environment of Namibia’s Kunene and Erongo regions rely on SRT’s team to keep them safe.
For the last four decades, the Trust has been working alongside communal conservancies, local and international NGOs, and other agencies to protect the desert-adapted black rhino and their efforts have been paying off. In the areas they work, poaching has significantly declined. In fact, across the country, rhino poaching has reduced. 30 rhinos were poached during 2020, and while this is still 30 too many, it’s better than the figures in previous years (50 rhinos were poached in Namibia during 2019, and 79 in 2018), So far this year, only nine rhinos have been reported poached, as law enforcement operations continue to close the net on wildlife crime in the country.
So how do rangers at SRT work to protect and monitor their rhinos? Collection of high-quality data on rhino movement, body condition and threats are one of their top priorities. Recently, the team shifted to the exclusive use of SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) devices to collect data. SMART devices are an innovative conservation management tool that enables rangers to collect and input data remotely while on patrol across the Conservancy. It’s certainly more efficient than paper records that could get damaged in the field.
This may seem like a simple technology upgrade; however, the use of these devices means that every remote camp must now have a reliable power source. Therefore, Save the Rhino Trust purchased four new, custom-built solar power systems. Solar systems provide much-needed electricity to SRT’s field camps, enabling rangers to charge the devices they use during their 20-day patrols. These custom-built systems have been specially designed to withstand the harsh, arid environment in the Kunene Region, as well as being tough enough to endure the bumpy trip from SRT’s field base to the respective patrol camps.
Adding new technology in the field is critical for rangers at SRT, acting as a force multiplier, meaning that rangers can protect more of the precious black rhinos that call Namibia home.
To find out more about the amazing work being carried out in Namibia, watch our live Q&A with Simson Uri-Khob, CEO of Save the Rhino Trust.