In the early 1980s, illegal poaching of black rhinos in the arid north-western regions of Namibia was rife. The population of these rare, solitary creatures had been decimated, leaving an estimated 60 rhinos. The black rhino was in desperate need of help.
Faced with the rhino's near-extinction, a trust was formed with the aim of ensuring protection of the remaining rhinos while affording elephant and other wildlife, the chance to recover to sustainable numbers. With a groundswell of local and national support and with the help of international funds, Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) - Namibia was officially registered in 1982.
Initially, a combination of ex-poachers and members of the local community were employed by SRT to monitor and protect the rhinos. These men had extensive knowledge of the habits of these animals and the rugged terrain they inhabited. The aim of preventing the extermination of the endangered black rhino on communal land has been enthusiastically supported by chiefs, headmen and the local communities. Since the SRT was founded, there has been close collaboration with the government, local communities, national and international partners. This coalition has been central in achieving the aim of enhancing security for the rhino; monitoring and researching the rhino population; and providing benefits to the community through conservation and tourism.
Since beginning its research and monitoring work in the 1980s, SRT, along with Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism, has overseen a 200 percent increase in rhino numbers. This dramatic turnaround could not have been achieved without the steadfast support of the SRT’s international and local conservation partners.
Yet threats to the black rhino remain and there is no time for complacency in conservation. Fortunately, SRT and its partners understand this, and together they are working hard to ensure that the last, truly wild population of black rhinos not only survives, but thrives.