Our guide suddenly stops and whispers that he sees the movement. We get out of the car slowly and follow our guide on foot. He is not more than 50 meters away from us, he breaks from the cover of bushes. He is suddenly bigger than I imagined. There is a rustle next to him and then two people. Next to him comes his smaller replica … a cow and a rhino calf are standing and staring at us and waiting.
This moment is etched in my brain. It was December 2010, the year South Africa ran out of 330 of these magnificent creatures. 2011 and 2012 proved worse. Currently, rhinos are in serious danger of extinction. Illegal hunting is no longer the only problem in South Africa. China’s international market is very lucrative for alternative medicines as African governments fight corruption.
Here in Namibia we are saved from the worst, but the recent increase in poisoned animals has alerted authorities. Our animals are in danger and need protection. Like many cruel animal deaths, local myths and beliefs play a huge role. The myth that the vulture brain can lead to the future (lotto winner) is that the rhino horn has healing powers – this is true for many rural Africans and the only way to get that education is from a very young age. . But is it too late to fight for the right of future generations to see rhinos in the wild?
The net size of Namibia, the often inaccessible areas where rhinos are found, and the dedication of both rangers and locals are certainly positive factors for Namibia. On the negative side, we also have an alarming increase in illegal aliens in the country – people who do not share our love for this beautiful country and its amazing animals. As long as our governments listen to the conservatives and open their pockets for illegal money, our animals will be in danger. Meanwhile, rangers, homeowners, and conservationists are doing everything they can to protect rhinos and endangered species. You’ll mention Namibian projects across social media – people who put themselves out there to save money.
Two such projects are Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) and the AfriCat Foundation. These projects work alongside safari sheds – each time a guest book is written at the residence, a percentage is allocated to the project budget. Of course, working with accommodation also has the benefits of educating guests. Some, like Okunjima, where AfriCat is based, even have training centers. Okunjima, located 50 km south of Etjivarongo, catches about 40 children a month. The SRT is located at 10,000 square miles of the Desert Rhino Camp Reserve (A Wilderness Safaris Lodge). Here you have SRT trackers to take you on foot to see rhinos. The same trackers also monitor the movement of rhinos in the reserve – and watch very closely for predators. Wilderness Safaris also works closely with the communities around its residence. This ensures confidence and training.
Looking at the various conservation projects in Namibia and the work they do in local communities, it is clear that we started the fight against poaching before the intensification of poaching on the South African border. Animals in Namibia have a chance to fight local fighters and international funding. The end is not in sight at all, but supporting a goal has never been more important than it is now.