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 Animals  Namibia Project #40135

Protecting Rhinos

by David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Protecting Rhinos

Happy New Year from the team at David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF)!

 

In 2019 we marked 35 years since David Shepherd founded DSWF and celebrated the incredible milestone of together raising over £10million to protect endangered wildlife across Africa and Asia.

 

As we head into 2020, we pledge to continue our vital work fighting against extinction, through our support for the incredible conservation partners we work with.

 

We hope you will continue to stand with us in our commitment to fight, protect and engage on behalf of endangered wildlife for many years to come.

 

Please take a moment to watch the following film which shows our commitment to the future of wildlife: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHQTWECcIvI

Together we have the power to continue David Shepherd’s legacy, give a voice to the voiceless and help end extinction before it’s too late. Thank you for your support.

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Thank you for donating to our Protecting Rhinos project. David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) has been a proud and long-term supporter, investor and instigator of rhino conservation around the world since its inception 35 years ago. From the deserts of Namibia to the savannahs of South Africa and as far afield as the forests of India, rhinos have been a species we have been fighting to save and protect for many years.

Following our last report earlier this year from Namibia, we wanted to share the fantastic news that the zero-poaching statistic from August 2017 still remains intact at the project location where DSWF has supported operation for over 25 years. Despite increased pressure and poaching elsewhere in the country and wider region, this is a huge milestone for the desert-adapted black rhino.

The success of avoiding poaching incidences and the brutal slaughter of rhinos for their horn in the area is simply down to the hard work, dedication and focus of the law enforcement agencies and brave rangers and intelligence officers on the front line operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

At the same time as we are witnessing zero poaching in the area of operations, several new rhino births have been recorded in the region with wonderful sightings of new calves, indicating a positive population growth. This has been an amazing achievement for a species which faces constant persecution simply for the use of their horn, a substance made of keratin, the same as human fingernails.

Against a backdrop of increased poaching and major risks to the safety of rhinos across Africa, DSWFs ground based conservation partners have heightened their surveillance and patrols to ensure these new calves have the strongest possible chance of survival in the wild. Increased anti-poaching patrols, vehicle-based intelligence-led patrols and regular engagement with local traditional authorities have made for a safe haven for some of the last remaining desert-adapted black rhinos in the world.

Despite this increased awareness and vigilance however, wildlife crime syndicates remain active in the region as highlighted by tragic poaching incidences elsewhere in the country and so often seen in the news. It is, therefore, more important than ever before that we continue to remain vigilant and work harder than ever to ensure the survival of this magnificent creature.

Thank you for supporting our Protecting Rhinos project, which aims to halt the extinction of wild rhinos across the world in some of the most beautiful and remote wilderness landscapes.

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Thank you for donating to our Protecting Rhinos project. David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) takes responsibility for the funds that you donate to us for conservation projects, and where possible, our team will visit a project for first-hand evidence that the impact of your funding is being maximised, so that we can report directly back to you the change you are personally helping us to achieve.

In February 2019, Karen Botha (DSWF CEO), Peanut Lamb (DSWF Head of Policy and Programmes) visited the Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) in Namibia.

The mid-1980s bore witness to the savage slaughter of wildlife in Africa and particularly of the black rhino which suffered a catastrophic 98% decline throughout its historic range across Africa. The world’s last remaining truly wild population of desert-adapted rhino, together with the desert elephant, was facing extinction. Rhino numbers were reduced to approximately 30 animals in the remote landscape of Kunene province.

In 1994, our founder David Shepherd chose to support the work of SRT in the Kunene and Erongo Region – fast forward 25 years and our team is delighted to report back to you, our donors, on our most recent visit to the project in February 2019.

As is always the case in conservation, success is built upon the unfaltering dedication and unwavering commitment to the cause and animal. The inspiring Namibian-born CEO Simson Uri-Khob has worked with the Trust since 1991, beginning his career for the organisation as a ranger, now leading a world class field-based team including, to name just a few, Director of Field Operations, Lesley Karutjaiva, Science Advisor Dr Jeff Muntifering and Tommy, SRT’s intelligence-led law enforcement unit.

The field-based team is ably backed up by brave rangers and incredible trackers for whom the environment can be easily interpreted, and to whom the rocky terrain can be read like a book. It is difficult to impart how impressive this skill is without adequately describing the lunar like landscape in which they work and their ability to track wild black rhinos and other species living in the area across vast featureless plains of rock and stones.

This project is attracting attention across the world, for all the right reasons.

Namibia’s Save the Rhino Trust has recorded zero deaths of the desert-adapted black rhino in the last 18 months where they are operating as a result of poaching. This is even more remarkable given that this area does not enjoy National Park protection and there is no fence line to patrol and monitor. This population of desert-adapted black rhino truly are one of the last surviving wild populations in the world, a responsibility their wildlife guardians bravely acknowledge and accept.

In addition, there has been a baby boom with unprecedented recordings of black rhino births, much to the delight of the trackers and rangers who have come to know the animals so well over the years. Our DSWF-adopted Inka is also now a proud parent of a beautiful healthy calf seen late last year for the first time.

Again, this success is hard to truly articulate without being able to adequately describe the vast landscape of 25,000 km2 protected by the SRT project by so few trackers and rangers, the incredibly hostile lunar-like terrain and the constant heat during the days averaging 40°C+.

Just 30 trackers and 53 rhino rangers, with support from the Namibian Police, protect this vast stretch of an isolated province, 24 hours every single day on long operational shifts of up to 20 days at a time in the field.

The legacy of the SRT field-based work is the scientific contribution of the project to improving knowledge and understanding of the desert-adapted black rhino which informs planning and management strategies for its conservation.

Using the best technologies available, the confidential data collected by the teams on the ground is maximised to further develop the Rhino Viewing Protocol and to strengthen the working relationship with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and other stakeholders to improve rhino-related tourism practices, particularly related to human wildlife conflict.

Whilst there are no doubt successes under this exceptional team, what is very clear is that there cannot be room for complacency, not even for a few hours.

The international illegal wildlife trade is a £15 billion industry with rhino horn being more valuable on the black market than cocaine and gold.

Every single day presents new and ongoing threats to this wild black rhino population. SRT fights a highly dangerous daily battle to maintain critical pressure on poachers, the undercover operations team are working often throughout the night to head off would-be poachers before they can get near an animal, community engagement in the conservancies takes place seven days a week, tracking and monitoring wild rhinos continues every single day.

And this level of pressure must continue for the foreseeable future to protect this iconic species.

We cannot afford to divert attention from the protection that this project offers to the desert adapted black rhino. The truth is that SRT needs many more boots on the ground to cover the huge areas described in this report if they are to succeed in the long term, under growing pressure and poaching threats, to save the black rhino.

The tide is currently being stemmed by persistent and brave efforts from the dedicated and professional SRT team, but the situation remains critical and we need your support more than ever to help SRT to continue to do what they do.

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Organization Information

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Location: Guildford, Surrey - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @DSWFwildlife
Project Leader:
Theo Bromfield
Guildford, Surrey United Kingdom
$929 raised of $15,000 goal
 
11 donations
$14,071 to go
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