Women in the Wilderness Part 2: Roaming with the Rhino

Apr 16, 2017 Conservation
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Save the Rhino Trust Namibia (SRT) Tracker, Denzel Tjiraso

Namibia is renowned as a prime destination for exploring unspoiled, contrasting landscapes; meeting diverse ethnic groups; and admiring uniquely adapted wildlife species.

A plethora of weird and wonderful creatures of the arid desert environment often entice visitors from all over the globe to take on the journey of a lifetime in search of spotting special species. Desert-adapted lion, giraffe and antelope are all spectacular creatures in their own right, but it is the rhino that is often on top of many a bucketlist.

While for many the opportunity to come face to face with this magnificent beast is a life-changing moment, there are those who dedicate their lives to studying their behaviour, monitoring and protecting them for future generations.

Top Notch and her calf, Troy

Denzel Tjiraso is one of these men, and for the past 11 years he has been spending his time at the heart of this specially protected area where the desert-adapted black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis) still roam freely.

“Rhino research is very important, as it teaches us about the species’ behaviour and on how to take care of their survival.”

In one day, he and his team of trackers can cover anything between 40 and 180 km in search of rhino. Once found, they take special care not to disturb the animals and make sure to note down important information in a ‘Rhino ID’ booklet, which covers everything from ear notches to horn shape. This information is then sent to Save the Rhino Trust head office at the end of every month, where it gets fed into one of the largest and longest standing rhino research databases in the world.

“We consider ourselves privileged to see black rhino in their natural environment as part of our daily patrolling duties, and my dream is to allow my children to also have the same opportunity. This is not my rhino, it is our rhino. And we all need to protect it for future generations.”

Inspired to do our bit in raising awareness for rhino conservation, we end the morning with a brunch-in-the-bush. Sipping slowly on a late morning coffee, we feel honoured to have had the opportunity to roam with Denzel and his team of trackers to admire the desert-adapted rhino.

Capturing the ‘Rhino ID’

Save the Rhino Trust works through a joint venture partnership with Desert Rhino Camp and Wilderness Safaris to protect the world’s last free-roaming black rhino population. This agreement also means that visitors to the area have the unique opportunity to spend time with rhino trackers in the field, and if they’re lucky, see this ancient animal in its natural environment.

Photographed and written by Marita van Rooyen


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