Rhino trust staff members cleared
In December 2014, the Trustees of Save the Rhino Trust Namibia (SRT) launched an internal investigation in response to newspaper reports that alleged that Save the Rhino Trust staff were complicit in rhino poaching in the Kunene Region.
The investigation was extensive and the investigators and assistants spent 76 days including weekends and holidays on the ground, working 10 hour days, travelling 18,629 kilometres, conducting interviews in Damara-Nama, Herero, Afrikaans, English and German, and using a network of informers.
The Independent Investigator’s report was shared with Save the Rhino Trust’s Board of Trustees and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. SRT chief executive officer, Simson Uri-Khob was cleared of any involvement in rhino poaching.
According to the report Uri-Khob has not withheld any information or knowledge about poaching and passed all relevant information to NamPol’s Protected Resource Unit (PRU).No evidence of any SRT staff being involved in poaching was found. The report believes that certain staff members have been intimidated by criminal syndicates and or local community, which may possibly have resulted in suspicions or information about poaching being withheld. These staff members have been identified and recommendations will be followed.
Given the scope of the results to date and the current environment where poachers are operating in the area, the SRT Board of Trustees has secured funding to increase the investigator’s remit and will continue to develop knowledge about poaching in the Kunene region in order to direct SRT patrol efforts and other initiatives.
SRT patrols and monitoring continued uninterrupted during the investigation and have in fact been strengthened.
SRT remains committed to working with its partners in the communities, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Special Forces Unit, NACSO Natural Resource Working Group, NamPol’s Protected Resources Unit, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), the Kunene Rhino Protection Unit, Rhino Rangers and WWF-Namibia in protecting the black rhinos of the Kunene Region.