Being on foot is one of the best ways you can take in the rugged landscapes, diverse wildlife and unique flora of Namibia. In this post we will be looking at a selection of walks that showcase the variety of on-foot adventures you can have in Namibia.
Visitors on a guided walk in Damaraland.
When in Namibia, go walking
Once you get out into Namibia’s countryside the one thing that you should realise is that almost every lodge, camp, rest camp, and game park will have a selection of walking trails that you can walk if you so choose. Many of these will be un-guided, but some of the establishments do offer guided tours.
Below are a few examples of the types of walks you can find while travelling through Namibia. The walks covered below range from traditional walking trails to more adventurous and unusual safari-style walks.
Have feet, will walk.
Walking the Waterberg
The Waterberg Plateau Park is a terrific place to visit for a few days. Game drives, diverse plant life and beautiful surroundings make the Waterberg a must-see when in Namibia.
The park does not allow visitors to drive themselves around the park but guests are encouraged to explore the park by foot. The grounds of the park are crisscrossed by a network of footpaths and hiking trails and those looking to explore the famous reserve can do so with ease.
Map of the park's many walking trails.
(Image via African Reservations)
Walking in the Waterberg one gains an appreciation for the huge plateau itself and if you are lucky, and very quiet, you may catch a glimpse of a few of the park’s inhabitants. Keep an eye out for tracks in the sand while walking as there are several animals in the park who use some of the trails that guests do.
Black rhino taking a dip in the Waterberg.
(Image via Africa and Beyond)
The bird life in the Waterberg is also fantastic and if you are a keen birder then you will know that bird spotting on foot is one of the best ways to catch a glimpse of some rare birds.
The walking trails are not particularly challenging and most guests, young and old, should be able to find a trail that suits their fitness level and peeks their interest.
The trails are all clearly marked. Above is marker for the Fig Tree trail.
For more information on the Waterberg click here.
Tracking Desert Rhinos on foot.
The Desert Rhino Camp is a mobile camp run by Wilderness safaris in partnership with the Save the Rhino Trust in the Palmwag Concession area. The camp is located in an area that is close to the Skeleton Coast in the north west of Namibia. The Palmwag Concession area boasts the highest concentration of black rhinos in Africa but it is also home to a large population of desert-adapted black rhinos.
A tracked rhino, hiding in the bushes.
Save the Rhino Trust regularly tracks the rhinos in the concession area as part of its efforts to conserve the endangered animals, and guests can help them out. You can, on foot, help the rangers and conservationists track these gentle giants through their natural environment- a walking experience that is as rare as it is incredible.
A family of desert-adapted rhinos.
Read a first hand account of one such experience here.
Climbing the dunes of Sossusvlei
There are several massive dunes near the iconic Sossusvlei and walking/hiking to the top of these dunes is a wonderful way to get amazing panoramic views of the famous vlei and its surroundings. There are no restrictions as to what dunes you can climb up, but there are trails that are more popular than others.
Adventurers trekking up one of the many dunes near Sossusvlei.
One of the more popular trails is the one that leads to the Dead Vlei with its fossilised trees and clay pan offering numerous photo opportunities for the walkers who crest the mighty dunes surrounding the vlei.
The unforgettable Deadvlei.
You can drive yourself to the dunes but you will need a 4x4 vehicle to get closer. There is a designated area where you can park your car. There are also several tour operators that will bring you to the same parking lot near the massive dunes.
The walk up Big Daddy is tough, but worth it.
Click here for a concise guide to getting up and down these dunes.
Following the Bushman trail at Okonjima
The Bushman trail at Okonjima affords guests the unique opportunity of following in the footsteps of the indigenous San people that still live in the area just west of the Waterberg.
The trail, which you will be taken along by a guide, will give you a glimpse into how Namibia’s oldest cultural group has lived their lives for centuries. From gathering food to crafting tools and preparing food, visitors are encouraged to participate and learn about one of the oldest living civilizations on the planet.
A guide teaching some guests about San culture.
(Image via Okonjima)
Follow this link for information on the trail and the game reserve.
Above are but four examples of the different kinds of walking adventures you can have in Namibia. As mentioned there are literally hundreds of walking trails in this vast country and it is always a good idea to ask whatever establishment you are staying at if there are any interesting walks to do.
Here is a list of camps with good walking trails around them.
And for those of you who feel like a more challenging on-foot adventure, check out our post on the unforgettable Fish River hike.
Namibia Kwaito sensation EES has made it through to the final round of a German talent competition and stands to win 1,000,000 EURO which will be donated to a charity of his choice. Being particularly passionate about his home country EES has declared that he will donate his winnings to the Save the Rhino Trust and other conservation projects and charities doing good work in Namibia.
Ees on stage and in action.
Earlier in the week EES had some time to answer a few of our questions and the singer also explained how people all around the world can help him win the competition and thus provide funding for some worthwhile conservation efforts.
What exactly is MillionahrWahl and who can enter?
Millionärswahl is the first of its kind – to connect the Internet with television – something that will very soon happen more and more. It’s a talent show where people from all over Germany registered themselves with their talent or charity idea – to then be chosen by the Internet into the TV show – which now has its final on the internet again. The winner of the show will walk away with 1 Million Euros for whatever cause he has registered himself with.
And how did you decide to enter?
I got a call from an old friend who saw the trailer of the show on TV and he said I would fit perfectly into the show and that I should enter. At first I didn’t really understand the concept because something like this has never been done, but then I decided to just take part in the online registration of the show.
When people in Germany ask you about Namibia, what do you tell them?
(Laughs)… I always tell them it’s the most beautiful country in the world – and then see what their face expression is… (Laughs)… well I tell them its my home and that they should come visit because it is a very safe place in Africa with beautiful landscapes and really friendly people. I cannot even count how many people I have convinced to come to Namibia – so many. Even through my music and my music videos – I have inspired so many people to visit the land of the brave.
If you win a million euros, what will you do with the money? / Why did you choose the charities that you chose?
Well I chose only charities that I am already involved with – because I think its easy for someone to get into the final of the show and then say: “Yeah I will do this and I will do that.”
The three main charities I have chosen are the ones I have already been active with even before the TV show – but I could support and do so much more if I would win this “Millionärswahl” competition.
My main support will go to the Rhino Foundations in Africa like (Save the Rhino Trust and Rhino for Erongo) – since I feel the time to really react to the brutal killings of the rhino is now – as the number of poached rhino is at its highest ever in history with over a 1000 rhino poached in 2013.
The other to Charity organizations are various orphanages in Namibia and also different educational exchange programs with Europe and Africa. Because I feel the best way to increase the living standard and so many problems in Africa is through education.
What’s your favorite place in Namibia?
That question is basically impossible to answer – as Namibia offers so many beautiful places. Every time I go somewhere new – I find a new “favorite” spot in Namibia – but I could say it is definitely somewhere in the line of the bush or desert. Because when you put your barefoot into the dune sand – you can just feel the energy penetrating your body.
Ees with some young fans.
How you can help
If EES is going to win then he needs all the votes he can get! Below is guide on how you can get involved with helping this passionate Namibian raise money for these vitally important conservation efforts.
**NOTE: There is only one hour of voting - on January 25th between 21:15 and 22:15 Namibian time.**
Voting times in other parts of the world:
There are two ways to vote:
1. Log on here during the allotted time! Use Facebook Connect to vote - You can watch the live show here.
A visual reference for when you cast your vote for EES.
2. Call the number on the screen (viewable at here to vote for EES (remember to add the country code for Germany “0049” – in front of the number). The call is only 0,50 cents and you can vote as many times as you like!
To stay up to date with all things EES follow him on:
Facebook - Twitter - YouTube
Namibia has some beautiful environments and one such place is the Kunene region in the North. The region, which is divided into Damaraland and Kaokoland, is mostly desert and semi-desert yet is home to three remarkably large mammals. Specially adapted rhinos, elephants and lions live out their lives in this wind swept and beautifully stark region. Here's more info on the desert adapted black rhinos found in Damaraland and how to catch a glimpse of them on your next trip to Namibia.
The Kunene after some good rains.
(image courtesy of SRI via Save the Rhino)
What is a desert-adapted rhino?
Many people already know that the black rhino is one of the most endangered large mammals in the world. It is also well-documented that since the 1980’s Namibia has been re-introducing these magnificent beasts into the wild with enormous success.
Black rhino and calf.
(image courtesy of Areb Busch)
One of the most interesting types of black rhinos that have been rehabilitated in Namibia are the desert adapted black rhinos of the Kunene region. Hunting and poaching had totally eradicated their populations in the arid regions, but since the 1980’s thanks to the work of organisations like the Save the Rhino Trust the population of these national treasures has increased five times!
Desert-adapted black rhinos at dusk.
(image courtesy of Namibia Tours Safaris)
These specially adapted beasts are able to withstand sweltering heat in excess of 40°C (100°F) and below freezing temperatures that are common place when the sun goes down in the arid regions of Namibia. The rhinos are mostly nocturnal so that they can avoid the excessive heat of the day.
Rhinos caught by a stealth camera on a night-time frolick.
(video courtesy of Save the Rhino International)
What makes desert-adapted rhinos different?
You will know when you have spotted a desert rhino because they look a bit different to other black rhinos. First things first, have a look at the rhinos below; do you notice anything different when compared to other black rhinos?
You will notice that the horn is slightly longer and thinner than a regular Namibian black rhino, this helps desert rhinos to forage in barren environments.
A more pronounced example of these animals' specially adapted horns.
(images courtesy of Save the Rhino)
The Rhinos of the Kunene are also unlike other black rhinos in that they are usually found on their own and not in small groups. However, the mother will stay with her calf for up to two and a half years which is long enough for her to teach her young how to survive in the tough conditions found in their habitat.
Mother and calf foraging in a dried up river bed
(image courtesy of Save the Rhino)
As a result many desert rhino are ‘lone rangers’ and they cut striking figures on the orange and brown backdrops of the natural landscapes. Some of the lone bulls have been known to be quite aggressive, so keep this in mind should you ever be so lucky as to spot one in the wild.
Ben the lone bull, fabled to be quite a no-nonsense character.
(image courtesy of Anne and Steve Toon via African Rhino)
How can you get close to the rhinos?
These animals roam in a 25,000km2 region, which is only a little bit smaller than the whole of Belgium! The rhinos are also experts at traversing this massive area and have home ranges of between 500km2-600km2. So if you want to spot a desert rhino in its natural environment you will have to be very patient and very committed.
You need a keen eye and enormous amounts of patience to spot one of these shy creatures.
(image courtesy of Vicki Brown)
One of the best ways to attempt to get close to these exceedingly rare creatures is to stay a few days at the Desert Rhino Camp. This beautifully appointed lodge is located in Palmwag Reserve (also known as the Palmwag Concession) and is one of the few places in the world that offer guided desert rhino tracking excursions.
With a bit of luck you could spot some of these mighty creatures!
(image courtesy of the Namibian)
The camp is a mobile camp and can be moved all around the region so that it can stay close to the ever-migrating herds of desert adapted animals. As a result there is only space for 12 guests and you will need to book in advance in order to spend some time searching for the rhinos.
The camp not only takes tourists on tours of the rgion but also is an active participant in the promotion and conservation of the deser-adapted black rhino.
A tracker recording a rare sighting of one of the rhinos.
(image courtesy of African Rhino)
How can you help?
The Save the Rhino trust is always looking for donors and you can pledge however much you want right here. Beyond just simple donations there are numerous ways in which you can get involved, so check out the trust’s relevant section the website by clicking on this link.
Experience the magic of these curious and rare creatures!
(image courtesy of African Rhino)
More on this topic
Emeritta Lillo is on the road with the #GoBigNamibia tour. Each day she'll be sharing their adventures, so stay tuned for some handy travel tips and inspiration. Follow the team on Twitter @NamibiaHorizons #GoBigNamibia and Facebook for a chance to win
Just after sunrise, the team set off from Grootberg lodge through the Klip River Valley for a day of rhino tracking. This region of Namibia is renowned for it's lush, unspoilt beauty, rocky landscapes and free roaming wildlife.
We navigated the bumpy ride with smiles and cameras flashing, taking in the spring-sprinkled trees and beautiful zebras and antelope.
Three hours later we received word that the trackers (who had set off on foot earlier) had spotted a rhino. We left the vehicles and headed up the mountain on foot. After about a kilometer, we were lucky enough to spot the male rhino named Hans Otto. He was resting in a clearing. We were sure to stay upwind from him so he couldn't catch our scent.
The black rhino population in the area has increased from three in 1998 to ten in 2013 due to the diligent work of the #Khaodi/Hoas Conservancy, their commitment to conservation and their brave promise to live side by side with wildlife.
On the way back to the lodge, we even encountered a small pride of young lions sunning themselves under the trees - a photographer’s dream. Another brilliantly adventurous day.
An early start, but the views alone made it worthwhile
The long drive in search of the rhinos
At last we spot some rhino tracks
We set off on foot to get a closer
Diligent conservancy managers document every rhino sighting to keep tabs on these endangered animals
And we found some lions on drive home (as you do)
Grootberg lodge - a sight for sore eyes after a long day of rhino tracking
Follow Emeritta and her fellow adventurers on their #GoBigNamibia tour
In this weekly EXTREME NAMIBIA blog series we explore some of our country's extremes, and share with you practical information on how you can come and discover them for yourself.
The black rhino is one of the world's most endangered species. Between 1960 and 1995, numbers dropped by a horrifying 96.7%, mainly as a result of poaching for their horns.
Black rhinos are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN's Red List
Today, Namibia is home almost half of the world's population of black rhino - most of these are found in Etosha National Park. It also has the world's largest population of black rhino that has survived on communal land - without conservation status - and therefore without fences. These are the unusual desert-adapted black rhino of Damaraland, in Namibia's stark northwest; and visitors are able to track these amazing creatures with experienced local guides to find out more about their behavior, their habitat, and how they are protected.
Here, a tourist tells her story...
In Search of the Black Rhino
At first glance, everything in boulder-strewn Damaraland looks dead - dry twigs instead of bushes, scorched earth instead of grass, parched beds where rivers should flow. It seems impossible that anything can survive here - let alone something as large as a rhino. But that is what the trackers have just found. They set off at dawn, as the guests at the community-owned Grootberg Lodge are just awakening, and radio back to camp once they have homed in on their target. We have a rhino. And his name is Hans Otto.
After driving along a bumpy trail, we abandon our safari vehicle and the trackers appear on foot from the bush. We are given strict instructions: do not wear bright clothing. Do not make a noise. Walk in single file. And always obey the trackers. Knowing that a well-camouflaged, horn-wielding beast weighing over a ton is roaming the bushes, nobody fancies doing otherwise.
A rhino tracker sports an anti-poaching t-shirt (left); a herd of springbok in Damaraland (right)
We wander along dry river beds, through bushes, up a hill, with the trackers constantly scattering handfuls of sand to see which way the wind is blowing. We have to remain downwind of Hans Otto. We discover scarlet-coloured bugs that look like they are covered in velvet; an enormous pair of kudu horns that are too heavy to lift; various animal droppings; and a lonely mountain zebra, watching us from a hilltop.
Our guide, Clement, finds kudu horns (left) and giraffe scat (right)
Then everyone stops dead and falls silent. We can't see Hans Otto, but the trackers' behavior has made it clear that he is nearby. And then we spot him, his earthy, red-brown body standing in contrast to the green leaves that surround him. The black rhino, one of the world's last, just a few meters away.
The tracker locates Hans Otto in the bushes
Cameras click, but we hardly dare breathe or move. The trackers sift sand, and edgeforward. Hans Otto turns to face us.
"When you can only see one horn, it means he's looking right at you..."
I pray that the rhino's eyesight is as bad as it is alleged. We are definitely close enough to get charged.
The trackers finally say it is time to return to the vehicles, so that we won't distress Hans Otto too much. We have been in his presence just a few breathtaking minutes, but it seems that time has stood still.
Hans Otto looks right back at us
The black rhino is not black - it is in fact the same color as the white rhino! The name "white" is actually derived from "weit" - the German word for "wide". White rhinos have wide, flat mouths as they graze on grass. In comparison, black rhinos have pointy, hooked lips as they eat leaves from trees and bushes.
Black rhinos are smaller than white rhinos - but they are much more aggressive. Fights between black rhinos are likely to result in death - and they also charge humans.
Height: 132–180 cm at the shoulder. Length: 2.8–3.8 m. Weight: 800 to 1,400 kg. The larger front horn typically is 50 cm long, but occasionally well over a meter.
Rhinos' eyes look unusually small. They have very poor eyesight, and rely much more upon hearing and taste - which is why you must always remain downwind of a rhino!
Conservation strategies in Namibia have included re-training poachers as rangers, removing the rhinos' horns, and translocating them to virtually inaccessible areas such as the Waterberg Plateau. These methods work: only a single rhino was killed in Namibia in 2012 - in comparison to over 600 (black and white) in South Africa.
Paola Sartori is a guide with Canada's Gray & Co, who has led tour groups on cycling trips around the world. She describes her traveling style as "curious, active, engaged; I want to see it all, to experience everything." Paola came to Namibia in November for a ten day introductory tour of the country, and says it is a "vast, passionate, surprising" country. Here she shares some of her thoughts about Namibia:
For me, the highlight of the trip was the overall experience. Every day offered a surprise. It is a country of a beauty that is not obvious, it takes time, observation and patience to get it. Flying in a tiny airplane so close to the ground that you could spot animals. Seeing the landscape change from the air, from urban to harsh dry desert to rich orange dunes. Finding exquisite accommodation with everything the modern traveler needs but respecting the environment. Visiting schools where teachers devote their lives to create better future citizens with opportunities, seeing the joy in the faces of children when they dance or sing. Observing a small example of the daily life of the Himba, their talents, their ancient rituals and traditions. Walking in search of a rhino knowing that an organization is there fighting for their right to continue being on this Earth.
Headteacher and pupils of Grootberg Primary School
And the views. ...the glorious views of dunes, valleys or roaming animals, what a joy to wake up to this amazement! Exploration with the field guides awakens us to the reality of the Namibian people, wild life, flora, the political situation. They are the ones that can transmit that to the visitor and is their responsibility to do it in a sensitive way.
Flying over Sossusvlei in a light aircraft
Prehistoric engravings, oversized boulders that magically balance and frame scenery and lodges. The continuing efforts of devoted people to defend big cats, creating tools for locals and foreigners to understand their fragility and absolute need to preserve them to keep the balance of life.
Ancient rock engravings at Twyfelfontein
The innovative ways lodge staff find to exploit their properties (in a good way!): enjoying unique sunrises and sunsets during breakfast or a cocktail; the hidden nook for a boma (a corral) that blew people’s mind with the warmth of the fire and of the staff, with candlelightand the traditional flavors.
Observing my own thoughts, I guess I come to realize that the country’s beauty is undeniable; but what makes it touch the heart of those who visit is the passionate, friendly, open spirit of their people.
What surprised me most about Namibia was the vastness; the colors; the friendliness of the people; the not-so-used-to-seeing-people animals; the incredible lodges lost in the middle of nowhere; the commitment to conservation.
People should come to Namibia to respectfully and carefully appreciate and enjoy one of the last countries where the experience is truly close to the wild, without a dozen other vehicles waiting their turn. Where travelers can learn about conservation and conscience, about the importance of the efforts to keep these animals around. To experience the traditions of the native groups. To realize that Namibia is a country on its own with a rich history and natural beauty that can be enjoyed as simply or as luxuriously as the traveler demands.
Plan your own trip to Namibia today - use our Interactive Map to calculate your route or contact a Namibia specialist on our website!
Namibia is a land of adventure and spectacle. Amazing natural parks, free-roaming wildlife, and iconic open spaces can inspire anyone. WWF Travel's Director Elissa Leibowitz Poma recently joined WWF's Chris Weaver in Namibia and came back with a few lessons that she originally posted on the WWF Travel Blog:
1. Black rhinos have a more sensitive disposition than white rhinos. Among several reasons why, according to Jeff Muntifering of the Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia, is the fear of being hunted. White and black rhinos alike have been poached for decades, but black rhinos, which are more solitary than white rhinos, appear to have passed along knowledge of that practice in their genetic code as a survival mechanism.
2. The San click languages spoken by some bushmen is quite difficult to pronounce. A language originating with the hunter-gatherers of southern Africa as they traversed their ancestral lands, the languages and various dialects are still spoken by about 100,000 people in Namibia and Botswana (and small groups in Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe). The one I tried learning consists of four click styles, depending on the placement of your tongue in your mouth. The clicks themselves weren’t so hard to form, but connecting them to words twisted my tongue in knots! (See a pronunciation guide to practice.)
3. Giraffes are the best models in Namibia. You could be driving along a road, nothing around you but sand and rocks, and then all of a sudden a giraffe neck and head pops out from behind a grove of trees. The giraffe would hold your gaze, nibbling on some leaves but intently watching you from beneath impossibly long eyelashes. (They’re that long for a purpose, by the way: To keep insects, debris and sunlight out of their eyes.)
4. There must be a better word to describe a springbok’s leap than “pronk.”Springboks and other gazelles exhibit this behavior when they’re being pursued by prey or otherwise feel a need to get out quickly. It’s an elegant, ballet-like move that allows the springbok to gain extra distance, and surely the motion deserves a more elegant, ballet-like word.
5. You must succumb to the dust. Namibia is a desert. It’s hot, it’s dry - Arizona seems like a rain forest in comparison. So you must accept the fact that the dust will coat every inch of you - covering every centimeter of your skin and clothes, coating each strand of hair, lining the inside of your nose. Instead of resisting it, I embraced it. It made me feel like a part of the magnificent, stark landscape.
6. It’s hard to eat game after watching it all day. Game meat is a way of life in Africa, and ostrich, zebra, kudu and other mammals frequently show up on menus. I recognize the realities of the world, and I’m not a vegetarian in “real life.” But for me, there was something quite difficult about watching dapper oryx walk across the valleys all afternoon, then mustering any desire to eat a steak of it for dinner. I was surprised by my reaction, actually. I stuck with pasta and veggies.
7. The adornments that Himba women wear all have practical purposes.The Himba are a semi-nomadic group in the Kunene region of northern Namibia who have maintained a traditional tribal lifestyle. The women we met in a small village were coated head to toe in otijze, a paste made of butter, ash and the natural pigment ochre. The coating gives them a rust-colored, shiny glaze, which not only beautifies them in the Himba way (the rich red color symbolizes blood and life), but also provides sun protection. Likewise, women wear beaded anklets, to prevent snake bites.
8. I have a new appreciation for asphalt. After spending hours each day in a vehicle bumping along dry riverbeds, rock-strewn trails and paths formed by elephants, I hereby declare I will never complain again about potholes in Washington, D.C.
To learn more about how you can have an experience like Elissa's in Namibia's Conservancies, click here.
Have you ever wondered what it feels like to stare down an 1,100 kilogram beast with no fence between the two of you? Ron Swilling recently went tracking with the Save the Rhino Trust in the Kunene Region of Namibia. The following is an excerpt of her account of the experience.
A lone cloud trails though a true-blue Namibian sky. Everything slows down and freezes as I face the Damaraland denizen, his prehistoric form linking me momentarily to generations of his ancestors that survived the tumultuous evolutionary journey through the millennia. His ears rotate, small grey radar dishes – listening, certain that he’s heard intruders in his territory. His small, beadlike eyes scan the blurry horizon. I inhale, keeping my mischievous breath prisoner for long seconds, like a naughty child who wants to burst out into the sunshine, while he, head up, serenely contemplates the scenario. The benevolent wind keeps the secret of my presence to herself. My heart beats too loudly.
Shhhh…I don’t move, my body rooted to the ground with a cement-like weight that feels too heavy to coax into movement, should the need arrive. All is hushed, except for the distant birds and hum of insects that are unaware of the enormity of the movement. And all is quiet, save for the long grass that dances with the memory of a good summer rainshower. The sun shines down, impervious.
The 1,000-kilogram beast lowers his head and moves on. Life’s pause button is released and the day continues as if the frozen hiccup of time has never been. I exhale and gulp the dry air, my throat parched. The blood flows back into my face. I have been given a reprieve to reflect on the power encounter and to consider why, amidst the many possible kinds of adventure, I had chosen this dauntin, heart-stopping and awe-inspiring experience.
Nowadays adventure usually involves catapulting your body through the air in different ways. This more sedate rhino-tracking adventure, although just as intense an adrenaline experience, has its origins and focus in conservation, offering the rare opportunity to view the small population of black rhino that has found a home in Namibia’s Kunene Region. So, leaving the gung-ho adrenaline junkies to their escapades in Swakopmund and at Vic Falls, and the safari-seekers eager to tick off the Big Five in Namibia’s national parks, I had opted to connect to the earth and an animal whose solid four-wheel-drive appearance belies its vulnerability.
To read the full story click here.
What do you want? Don’t you know I’m a solitary man? I’m Roger, yeah, Roger the Rhino. Laugh all you want. My eyesight isn’t that great, but I can hear ya and sure can smell ya! I’m 3,000 pounds of power and I don’t like being laughed at. I like peace and quiet and space, but peace isn’t so easy to find these days. So I guess it’s time to talk, because man you are killing me. Not ‘me’ exactly, but my brothers and sisters in the rest of Africa are taking a hammering. In Namibia we do this conservation thing differently. Follow me and I’ll tell you how it’s done.
In the early 1980s, illegal poaching of black rhinos in the arid north-western regions of Namibia was rife. The population of these rare, solitary creatures had been decimated, leaving an estimated 60 rhinos. The black rhino was in desperate need of help.
Faced with the rhino's near-extinction, a trust was formed with the aim of ensuring protection of the remaining rhinos while affording elephant and other wildlife, the chance to recover to sustainable numbers. With a groundswell of local and national support and with the help of international funds, Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) - Namibia was officially registered in 1982.
Initially, a combination of ex-poachers and members of the local community were employed by SRT to monitor and protect the rhinos. These men had extensive knowledge of the habits of these animals and the rugged terrain they inhabited. The aim of preventing the extermination of the endangered black rhino on communal land has been enthusiastically supported by chiefs, headmen and the local communities. Since the SRT was founded, there has been close collaboration with the government, local communities, national and international partners. This coalition has been central in achieving the aim of enhancing security for the rhino; monitoring and researching the rhino population; and providing benefits to the community through conservation and tourism.
Since beginning its research and monitoring work in the 1980s, SRT, along with Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism, has overseen a 200 percent increase in rhino numbers. This dramatic turnaround could not have been achieved without the steadfast support of the SRT’s international and local conservation partners.
Yet threats to the black rhino remain and there is no time for complacency in conservation. Fortunately, SRT and its partners understand this, and together they are working hard to ensure that the last, truly wild population of black rhinos not only survives, but thrives.