May 2015 –The Wilderness Wildlife Trust, in partnership with Pupkewitz Nissan, has facilitated the donation of two 4x4 vehicles to Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) to help combat the threat of poaching and secure critical black rhino populations in the Kunene region of north-west Namibia. The handover of the vehicles took place in Windhoek on 12 May 2015.
“We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support from our donor, Jeffrey Neu, and assistance from Nissan which enabled us to purchase and donate these vehicles to such an important conservation initiative. It is imperative to ensure the buy-in and support of local communities to combat any poaching threats quickly and decisively, and these new vehicles will increase SRT’s monitoring capacity and emergency response times to ensure the long-term protection of black rhino in Damaraland”, said Russel Friedman, a Trustee of the Wilderness Wildlife Trust.
The desert-adapted black rhino in the Kunene region is the only rhino species, worldwide, to have survived and increased in numbers outside of a formally-protected park. Unfortunately, after years of relative stability, largely external poaching pressures are mounting and threatening Namibia after nearly a two-decade poaching hiatus. The partnership between SRT, Wilderness Safaris Namibia, Wilderness Trust and the Big 3 Conservancies of Anabeb, Sesfontein and Torra are addressing this threat, thanks to their long-term collaborative approach that integrates rhino monitoring, tourism activities and community participation. However, more funding is required to assist SRT with its anti-poaching patrol efforts across this vast landscape.
“With the ever-growing threat of poaching on our doorstep, we are proud to partner with Wilderness Safaris to support SRT and increase its vehicle fleet dedicated to rhino monitoring in Kunene. We hope that the new vehicles will assist SRT in ensuring adequate mobility for the field-based monitoring taking place within the Palmwag Concession, as well as strengthening its patrol efforts in high-risk areas within the Concession and surrounding buffer areas”, says Rayno Keys, Fleet Consultant.
The vehicles will operate on a cost-share basis between SRT and Wilderness Safaris Namibia. They will boost the already-high standard of field-based monitoring taking place for roughly 75% of the Kunene’s black rhino population and help guarantee an effective ground presence. Each of the new vehicles has been fitted with various accessories as part of the Nissan sponsorship, including rails, water tank, tow bar, bush bar, fuel tank and radio/CD player.
“We will continue to closely track and monitor the health of the rhino population in Kunene and enhance our innovative efforts to develop and deliver responsible rhino-based tourism models, whilst proactively protecting them from poaching”, said Simson Uri-Khob, SRT CEO. “Such efforts will slowly but surely help towards achieving our goal of securing a future for the unique desert-adapted black rhino.”
For more information and background on this project, click here.
(Left to right) Armand Barnard (Pupkewitz Nissan’s Dealer Principal) hands over the vehicles to Simson Uri-Khob (SRT CEO); Dr. Axel Hartmann (SRT COO) proudly drives one of the new vehicles off the shop floor.