The Poaching Challenge
Poaching and the illegal wildlife trade is devastating populations of wildlife species throughout Africa. After years of conservation success, Namibia’s wildlife, including our rhinos, is being targeted by poachers. SRT is working closely with our partners at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), conservancies, local communities and within Namibia’s law enforcement agencies to fight back.
Last year Namibia lost 24 rhinos from poachers compared to 60 discovered this year. The vast majority of these poaching cases occurred in Etosha National Park, but the Kunene region was not immune.
The full extent of the poaching really only came home when in November 2014 when the MET set about a major dehorning exercise in the region. The exercise was helicopter based and reached remote areas that had not been covered for some months. Several rhino carcasses were found.
SRT has no law enforcement function, but it became clear that monitoring rhinos was no longer enough to keep them safe.
SRT has no law enforcement function, but it became clear that monitoring rhinos was no longer enough to keep them safe. In November 2014, a formal Operations Centre was formed and based at SRT’s headquarters. Spearheaded by MET, a multi-agency anti-poaching effort is on the action. This includes MET, SRT trackers, Special Field Force/MET ground teams, augmented by substantial air support (both fixed wing and helicopter). The support of IRDNC, Rhino Rangers, conservancy rangers as well as private sector donors is also vital to this success of this new approach.
SRT teams need to be trained and equipped for stealth and night operations. This specialist training will allow them to be more effective in this new operating mode.
Throughout Namibia, the public is being engaged and rewards for information the leads to the arrest of poachers are being offered by the MET and SRT.
SRT is constantly evaluating and adjusting its strategy to deal with this threat, and together we will save the rhino.
This new operating regime requires a completely new support and reward approach for SRT members. This change brings new risks and threats.
"...together we will save