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Save the Rhino Trust Namibia marks World Wildlife Day

SRT trackers must know where the rhinos are. For this they use GPS which they have learned to use at special training camps like this one.

On Tuesday, Save the Rhino Trust Namibia marked World Wildlife Day by acknowledging the vital support of colleagues and sponsors towards the protection of the world’s last population of desert-dwelling black rhinos.
The past several months have seen positive participation by all stakeholders in the Kunene Region, including the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, NamPol (Namibian Police) and their Protected Resources Unit and Special Field Force, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation, tourism operators and critically, local communities, where our collective presence is making a difference in strengthening our protection of black rhinos.

This spirit of co-operation for a common cause has led to the implementation of the Kunene Rhino Protection Unit, which has achieved real traction in a short period of time.  As a key participant in this initiative, SRT thanks the private sector in Namibia for their generosity in raising initial funds and acknowledges the excellent work of Palmwag Lodge in initiating the formation and funding of this unit.  
Late last month Sally Case, Chief Executive Officer of the David Sheppard Wildlife Trust, visited Namibia to witness SRT in action. Case spent time in the field with SRT CEO Simson Uri-Khob and other SRT staff members to gain a better understanding of how the rise in poaching is impacting SRT’s efforts to protect this critically important population of black rhinos.
“Observing SRT at work in the field was vitally important to understanding the challenges they face in protecting the critically endangered desert adapted black rhino,” said Case.
“This species has survived for thousands of years in the arid Namibian landscape and we cannot allow them to die out because of man’s misguided belief in the healing properties of rhino horn. These beautiful creatures face an uncertain future, and individual animals face painful deaths if we cannot bring poaching under control. With their many years of skilled experience in the region, SRT are in a strong position to provide the protection needed,” she added.
Case’s visit was a testimony to seeing is believing, and an example of the vital support received from DSWT and all the sponsors.
Case passed a special thanks to Samia Trust and Save the Rhino International who funded the running costs for a vehicle to be present in a particularly vulnerable area, and also for their support in funding skills development initiatives for Martin Nawaseb. With their support, Nawaseb has moved from a Senior Tracker position to that of a Principal Tracker for SRT.  
Conservation ecologist with SRT and Director of the Rhino Rangers Incentive Programme, Jeff Muntifering presented a hands-on GPS training course to SRT staff members.  Participants learned practical skills that can be applied in the field, and tested these skills against one another in a competition.  From the marks, it was evident that everyone learned a great deal, and the overall winners of the competition and the SRT GPS Challenge Cup were the team of Mannetjie Ganaseb and Manfred Uiseb.
A number of intensive scene-of-the-crime training courses have been undertaken with the generous support of the British High Commission, the last of which will be completed later this month.
These 6-day courses, which have trained numerous participants including MET staff, community Rhino Rangers and SRT trackers, give the participants vital skills to ensure the maximum preservation of evidence at any poaching incidents and the best chance of obtaining convictions. SRT’s Director Operations, Bernd Brell, led the training.
“World Wildlife Day reminds us that we are not alone in our fight to protect rhinos. In strengthening our resolve to protect Namibia’s black rhinos, we thank our colleagues and friends in the field, and all our sponsors for stepping forward at a critical time,” Case said.

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