Camel patrols are used to measure the desert rhino populations.
Save the Rhino TrustBased in the Kunene Region in Namibia's northwest, Save the Rhino Trust Namibia is a non-governmental organisation aiming to protect the area's population of desert-adapted black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis) – the only one in the world! It was founded in 1982 by a group of locals and conservationists concerned about the decreasing number of rhino due to poaching.
Save the Rhino Trust Namibia works closely with the homonymous Save the Rhino Trust, which supports a number of ongoing rhino conservation programmes focusing on critically endangered species by funding.
Today, the area protected by SRT covers 25.000km². Four teams of trackers roam the region on a monthly rotational basis in order to deter poachers, as well as to monitor the existing rhino population, and to record the position and identification of individual rhino. Mini-censuses of the population (including births, mortalities, age/sex breakdown, sub-populations) are conducted every few month, and a full census is launched every five years – showing that the growth of Namibia's rhino population is slowing.
Other SRT tasks include the translocation of desert-adapted black rhino into their former habitat to establish meta-populations, and to ensure the survival and growth of the species. Activities also focus on the training of community game guards, as well as on wildlife-based tourism, in close collaboration with the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET). Guests at the Desert Rhino Camp can go out with the rhino trackers in a 4x4 vehicle to search for the rhinos, before getting closer on foot - although not too close!
Save the Rhino Trust Namibia – Camel Monitoring TeamThe first three camels were introduced to Save the Rhino Trust Namibia in the early 1990's; since 1997, camel patrols are used to monitor the population of desert-adapted black rhino in the Kunene Region. At that time, first attempts to introduce tourism/travel in the form of 'camel rides' took place.
As a strategy to establish responsible tourism/travel, SRT together with Wilderness Safaris plan to commence 'guided camel safaris' in winter 2009. These promise to lead visitors into the range of black rhino, using a large portion of the rhino core area itself. Camel safaris are not only a chance to combine tourism/travel and rhino conservation; they also achieve a certain amount of financial security for the Trust, and ensure the continued presence of the SRT Camel Monitoring Team in Kunene's rhino range – which is considered crucial to the survival of this desert-adapted species.
Expert Africa's contributionOf course, the Camel Monitoring Team needs a certain annual budget to ensure the well-being of team and animals. From team equipment and remunerations of tracker & camel keepers, to camel pens, fodder during winter, veterinary care and vehicle logistical support – the list of needed things/goods is quite long.
Since the conservation of African wildlife is our business as well, Expert Africa bears a part of the annual veterinary care costs for the camels. These include costs for medicines & vaccinations for all the animals, veterinarian fees for Dr. Axel Hartmann (Otjiwarango Veterinary Clinic), and travel cost between Otjiwarango and Kamanjab & Mbakonja, where the camel bases are located.