Namibia’s wild rhino have a chance for survival if the local people simply do not tolerate poaching, if rhino become more valuable alive than dead – through employment and tourism. This has been at the heart of Namibia’s conservancy programme which has contributed to keeping poaching at bay in the past two decades.
But Namibian rhinos are again under siege.
The demand and prices paid for the medicinally worthless rhino horn have reached an all-time height. Thus the relentless eye of the poaching syndicates is again turned on them: On the last truly wild population of desert black rhino in the world. In the past months several carcasses have been found in the Kunene region.
The tourism potential of the Kunene region with its mind-boggling landscapes, wildlife and cultures is only starting to be developed. There is a huge opportunity. Seeing a rhino, elephant or lion in such a primordial landscape is only possible in Namibia, nowhere else! The loss of an iconic species like the rhino would make the tourist attraction a lesser one.
Rhino tourism can provide a sustainable income for generations, whereas killing rhinos for the price of their horns will eventually lead to a dead end, for tourism and the communities.
But the poaching has arrived and is likely to continue unless ground efforts are stepped up and the local people are truly involved. One of the programmes created to ensure that the rhinos will still be there tomorrow is the rhino ranger programme. It is a cooperation of local communities organized in conservancies, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), and local conservation organizations, namely Save the Rhino Trust (SRT), Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) and Minnesota Zoo. The rhino rangers are a new generation of “rhino rangers”: highly talented groups of local people, chosen by their communities to monitor their rhinos. They also play an emerging role in tourism through rhino tracking. Today, there is already a trained community-based rhino monitoring force of 26 rangers across 13 conservancies.
TOSCO (Tourism Supporting Conservation) has therefore been approached by Save the Rhino Trust to help improve the quality and quantity of the rangers’ patrols. Funding for performance-based bonuses, field equipment and improved living conditions in the field are urgently needed and TOSCO has stepped up with a contribution in the amount of N$54,000 to help fill this gap.
TOSCO Trust (Tourism Supporting Conservation) is a non-profit organization connecting tourism to conservation & communities in Namibia for the benefit of all. Funded by tourism operations, TOSCO Trust supports conservation and local communities living with wildlife. TOSCO Trust also promotes responsible travel and public awareness. TOSCO Trust closely cooperates with conservation organisations like the Desert Lion Conservation Project, Save the Rhino Trust, WWF or IRDNC. For more information contact 00264 (0) 81 45 35 855, e-mail email@example.com or visit our website www.tosco.org.