Save the Rhino Trust honours those who have made an outstanding contribution to the conservation of rhinos and to life on this planet we all share:
Blythe Loutit’s career was as rich, varied and meaningful as she was. From naturalist to botanical artist, from landscape painter to author, whatever the assignment, her unwavering focus was directed at her primary passion: to save the rhino.
Since founding Save the Rhino Trust in the early 1980s with the late Ina Britz, Blythe went from working with a small, dedicated group of Namibians in isolated field conditions to running an organisation that has received worldwide acclaim for its conservation efforts and ethics. She converted schoolchildren into rhino friends, poachers into protectors, and strangers into passionate conservationists.
Blythe won many awards along the way, including the Sir Peter Scott Merit Award at the IUCN Species Survival Commission in 1988 and the Operation Survival Award in 1991. In 1996 she gave the keynote address at the Species Survival Commission African Rhino Specialist Group general assembly in Montreal, Canada. To raise funds for rhino conservation, Blythe sold her paintings at Christie’s in London and through the David Shepherd Foundation. She also illustrated six books on plants in South Africa and Namibia, and wrote and illustrated several scientific and general publications, including her own children’s book, The Magic Elephant. Most recently Blythe received the 2001 BBC Animal Award for the Conservation of the Species, an award designed to ‘pay tribute to ordinary people who do extraordinary work for the conservation and welfare of animals’.
Seven rhino generations have been monitored, loved and respected in Damaraland, and no doubt Blythe would count this as her – and the SRT team’s – greatest accomplishment. The greatest hope of all who love the wild places and animals of Namibia, and all, who knew and loved Blythe, is for this work to continue.
On 19 January 2005 Mike Hearn, director of research for Save the Rhino Trust, drowned in a surfing accident, and the world of conservation lost a dedicated researcher, an innovative environmentalist and a truly wonderful friend.
Mike was introduced to rhinos at an early ago, when his father took him to visit a zoo near them home in Kent, UK. At 20 years old, he did work experience at Save The Rhino International's office in London before landing a job with the Save The Rhino Trust in Namibia.
Mike’s passion for rhinos took him from the SRT offices in Windhoek to where he longed to be most: in the field tracking rhinos with game guards, film crews or on his own, sometimes on foot, sometimes with camels as companions.
During this time, Mike gained an MSc in conservation biology at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology in Kent, England, and was working on his PhD as part of the Darwin Initiative awarded to the SRT.
In 2002 he became a member of the World Conservation Union’s Species Survival Commission African Rhino Specialist Group in recognition of his growing authority in linking rhino conservation with people-centred approaches to conservation. It was on this topic that he was aiming to complete his PhD thesis in biodiversity management in 2006.
Mike worked tirelessly – and with unfailing humour – to protect the rhino and the land on which they depend. He now rests in peace with them.
To honor Mike’s spirit and his dedication to rhinos, Save the Rhino International established the Mike Hearn Internship. This Internship Programme is aimed at highly motivated school leavers or recent graduates wishing to pursue a career in conservation. It offers one Intern each year the opportunity to work for Save the Rhino International as an all-round introduction to the sector. The 9th month is spent with staff from Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia.
Mike’s dear friend, Vanessa Buxton has been the driving force behind the Annual Mike Hearn Memorial Cycle, which entails a seven-day cycle over rugged rocks, tracking black rhinos and looking for elephant, giraffe and gemsbok. Founded in 2005, the annual event raises funds for Save the Rhino Trust Namibia.
The late Ina Britz and the late Blythe Loutit travelled a similar path through the desert. The two met on a track in a remote area of the Kunene where Blythe had become stranded with a puncture. While Ina showed her how to use a high-lift jack, she told Blythe about the killing of wildlife in the desert. At the time Ina and her husband, Colin Britz, lived at Wêreldsend near the border of the Skeleton Coast Park.
Both Blythe and Ina were passionate about the area and its wildlife that managed to survive in the stark, beautiful surroundings. They were also horrified by the carnage of rhino and elephant in the area at the hands of primarily the South African
Defense Force in the early 80s.
The two women joined forces, and the support of their husbands, and a number of conservation-conscious businessmen in Windhoek and community leaders in Damaraland, established the Namibia Wildlife Trust. This eventually led to the formation of the Save the Rhino Trust.
A conservation champion, Ina did not live to see the rewards of her vision. She passed away 8 August 1985.
Daniel Alfeus “Boxer” //Hawaxab
On 7 October 2014, the SRT Rhino Tracker, Daniel Alfeus “Boxer” //Hawaxab died. He was laid to rest at an emotional funeral in Sesfontein, Namibia. With the blessing of Boxer’s family, Save The Rhino Trust Namibia (SRT) wishes to lead a tribute to his life, his legacy and his wish that black rhino will always range his birth soil.
The blood of Damara warriors flowed in Boxer’s veins. In the 11 years he worked for SRT, his rigid commitment to saving black rhinos elevated him to be an Eco-Warrior of the highest order. He did not carry a spear, gun or panga, but was armed to the teeth with bushcraft, resilience and passion. As with the deep tradition of any warrior, Boxer was not deterred by the extreme heat, or the desolate and harsh environment, or the long weeks on foot. Neither did the impending danger of armed poachers and the tentacles of their criminal networks deter him.
Boxer leaves a legacy of selfless dedication, of bravery, integrity and respect. His spirit was beyond intimidation to his last moments.
As the dark clouds of a poaching epidemic close in, we make an appeal that Boxer’s legacy preserving the desert adapted black rhino inspires others in Namibia and around the world.
Our friend and colleague’s life was taken too early. It was taken on the soil of his ancestry. He died a warrior, fighting not the wars of his ancestors, but a war against ruthless and mindless greed.
It is with great sorrow that we have learned of the sudden death of Ismael Mbomboro who died on Monday, 21 August 2017 at the age of 54. His death stunned and saddened friends and colleagues at Save the Rhino Trust. Ismael was enjoying his weekend off at the time of his passing
Ismael joined Save the Rhino Trust in December 2015. He was a valued member of our team of rangers based at Desert Rhino Camp and will be greatly missed. In a recent interview he said: “I’m very proud of my job and I like being in nature and acting as a save-keeper for our rhinos.”
Our thoughts go out to his family and friends in this difficult time.