Saving Namibia’s Free-Roaming Black Rhino

Apr 19, 2017 Conservation
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It is one of our greatest projects to date…

This year we are celebrating our ‘Reasons to Believe’ – the reasons for our existence and the achievements over the last 35 years of which we are most proud. We began by sharing our video of the inspiring Torra Conservancy and Damaraland Camp partnership … Today we move to Desert Rhino Camp (DRC) – another one of our Namibian camps with an important conservation success story behind its name.

Desert Rhino Camp is situated within the 580 000-hectare (1.4 million acre) Palmwag Concession in Namibia’s remote and rugged north-west Kunene Region. It was here, in 2003, after the camp opened, that Wilderness Safaris joined forces with Save the Rhino Trust Namibia (SRT) and local conservancies, Torra, Sesfontein and Anabeb, to ensure the survival of Africa’s most threatened wildlife species.

The video captures the story of Desert Rhino Camp and the conservation coalition that has enabled the growth of Namibia’s black rhino population.

Guests at Desert Rhino Camp have the opportunity of not only tracking rhino on foot or by vehicle with SRT trackers, but also of playing a meaningful role in the ongoing preservation of this Critically Endangered species. A portion of guests’ nightly rates directly funds black rhino monitoring and various other conservation activities in the region.

Why do we believe?

  • Desert Rhino Camp is a symbiotic partnership with SRT that operates as a rhino monitoring post in what would otherwise be an unmonitored area.
  • Rigorous scientific monitoring of tourism activities proves that there is no behavioural or other negative impact on this black rhino population.

  • Together with our partners we have managed to dramatically and sustainably increase the range of desert-adapted black rhino in the north-west, as well as the overall population as a result of more aggressive recruitment rates.
  • The Namibian north-west is home to Africa’s most indisputably important population of black rhino to have survived outside a formally-protected park.

 The timeline below provides an outline of the partnership and its achievements:

The Partnership:

  • Desert Rhino Camp serves as a base for one of the SRT’s tracking/monitoring teams; Wilderness Safaris pays for the team’s running costs.
  • SRT is responsible for leading all rhino tracking activities, enforcing viewing protocols, and ensuring rhino monitoring and threat data is collected, processed and secured.
  • Wilderness provides financial remuneration to the “Big Three” conservancies – Torra, Sesfontein and Anabeb – as part of their lease agreement, as well as employment opportunities at Desert Rhino Camp.
  • Levies from the Camp directly fund rhino monitoring and other rhino conservation activities.
  • Thus, every guest of Desert Rhino Camp actively and financially supports rhino conservation. 

Quick Facts:

Scientific Name: Diceros bicornis bicornis

Taxonomy: Forms part of the south-western subspecies of the black rhino Diceros bicornis.

Range: Desert-adapted black rhino were historically found across Namibia and into western South Africa. Today, 90% occur in north-west Namibia, with the remainder limited primarily to a few locations in South Africa.

Size: Larger than the two other existing subspecies D.b. minor and D.B. michaeli

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By Kate Collins

Kate grew up exploring the bushveld on her family rose farm, living among Nguni cattle, geese, warthogs, ostriches and horses. After completing an Honours degree at the University of Cape Town, Kate began working at Wild magazine as a journalist and as the Digital Editor of the Wild Card website. Kate has travelled to destinations throughout southern Africa, enjoying the many rich offerings of our country. Her work at Wild magazine helped secure her next move to Londolozi Game Reserve where she worked in their Creative team managing online communications and assisting guests with their wildlife photography. Kate now lives in Johannesburg and is proud to be a part of Wilderness Safaris in her role as copywriter. “I am very excited to work for a company that makes such a huge difference to people’s lives and to the wild places throughout our incredibly beautiful and diverse continent.”

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