Inspiring People: Rhino Rangers in the Kunene Basin in north-western Namibia
The Rhino Rangers in the Kunene and Erongo region of Namibia have a very important and often challenging task: to protect the largest free-ranging black rhino population in the world, in a very harsh and arid environment. Over 60 rhino rangers are employed by 13 community conservancies surrounding the Palmwag Concession in north-western Namibia and their daily task is to patrol a total area of 25,000 km2, finding rhinos and ensuring that they are unharmed.
These rhino rangers are supported by more than 40 Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) staff, who work with them on patrols, provide mentorship and training on tracking and identification of individuals as well as data collection using SMART devices. In addition, SRT provides logistical and material support to the rangers, providing rations during their patrol days, as well as uniforms and field equipment such as cameras and SMART devices needed for data collection. There are more than a dozen strategically placed fly camps that form the base for the ranger teams during their 20-day patrol cycle. These fly-camps are small fenced areas with basic accommodation and cooking facilities as well as water tanks. The BIOPAMA project is supporting SRT with a grant to upgrade these fly-camps, equip and train the rangers on SMART devices and ensure that 20 teams have rations during their patrols.
The work of the Rhino Rangers can be very gruelling – the dry and hot conditions during the day and the rugged terrain make for challenging walking in some areas and on many days. Temperatures are already in the low 20s by 8am in the morning, peaking at between 35-40 degrees in the afternoon. None the less, these Rhino Rangers go out day to day, to contribute their effort to the overall protection of this unique free ranging black rhino population. Once a year, the rangers come together for the Kunene Rhino Ranger Awards, where they are recognised for their dedication and the top performers rewarded with prizes for their commitment over and above the call of duty. The categories in this years awards were: best rhino ID photo, most foot kilometre walked, most active patrol days and most rhinos identified.
Learn more about this BIOPAMA-supported project here: Protecting the World’s Last Free Ranging Black Rhino - BIOPAMA Action Component