Tracking Rhinos

Watch a stunning photo essay portraying a tracker`s daily work and the vast, rugged and beautiful terrain in which they work.

Conservation problem

The Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is currently distributed in relatively small, fragmented landscapes across sub-Saharan Africa. In Namibia’s remote north-west Kunene Region, Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) monitors and protects a subpopulation of the south-western subspecies (Diceros bicornis bicornis).

This subpopulation is truly unique since they are the only Rhinoceros that persist on unfenced, communal land with no formal conservation status and have been rated as one of only six Key 1 Black Rhino populations in the world by the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group. Furthermore, they are the largest truly free-ranging Black Rhino population left in the world. However, it could be argued that this unique ‘free-roaming’ characteristic on unprotected lands also renders Kunene rhinos more susceptible to poaching. The reality of the current poaching crisis in neighbouring South Africa, where 950 rhinos have been killed since January 2009, places the Kunene rhinos at very high risk.

project activities

Save the Rhino International (SRI) and Save the Rhino Trust Namibia (SRT) will use SOS - Save Our Species support to monitor and patrol the Kunene rhino range (25,000 km²). Constant field presence and foot patrols are an effective means to deter poaching and SRT has been employing, training, equipping and deploying teams of local trackers (rhino scouts) in the region for nearly three decades.

Project staff will carry out foot, vehicle, camel, donkey patrols – for inaccessible areas – and air surveillance. Data will be collected on individual rhino, other wildlife and poaching threats (the Kunene database is one of the longest-running and most comprehensive databases on Black Rhino in the world).

Project outcomes

The main objective of this project is the immediate protection of the Diceros bicornis bicornis (a sub species of the Critically Endangered Black Rhino). This will also provide increased security of the wider habitat, of which the rhinos form an integral part.

Also, increased availability of monitoring data for research informs a greater understanding of Black Rhino behaviour and enables more efficient conservation practices to be developed in the future. Management data informs translocation plans, which help to prevent the rhino population reaching Ecological Carrying Capacity in its current range.

Sustainability of good human-wildlife relations is essential and will be ensured by involving communities, employing local staff and generating income from rhino-related tourism

  • 15A-076-008, A_SAM0625 72 DPI, SOS Save Our Species, IUCN , FFI, Rhino, Borana, Kenya
    IUCN and GIZ launch review of best practice in wildlife law enforcement in Sub-Saharan African protected areas
    Around the world, wildlife is being depleted by illegal activities at an alarming rate, depriving local populations and national economies of important natural capital. Moreover, this loss has a signi...
  • 11A-03-53, Dave Hamman Photography
    Save The Rhino Trust Namibia speaks with SOS
    One of Save the Rhino Trust Namibia’s (SRT) largest-ever grants came from SOS - Save Our Species for the calendar year 2012. Through this grant, SRT was able to enhance its Field Patrolling and Monito...
  • SOS, SRT, 2011A-003,  11A-03-37
    World Rhino Day Swakopmund Style
    World Rhino Day, September 22nd, 2012 was cold and windy in the town of Swakopmund in the Kunene region of north western Namibia, home to a unique population of Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis bico...
  • SOS SRT SRI 2011A-003 11A-03-06
    So you think rhino tracking is easy?
      So you think rhino tracking is easy? Let me provide an insight into the daily life of a rhino tracker in the harsh desert of Namibia where SOS – Save Our Species is supporting our work. My nam...
  • SOS SRI SRT 2011A-003 black rhino 11A-03-14
    Crucial Year for Rhino
    In 2007, poachers killed 13 rhino in South Africa. In 2011, this number has risen to 448 and the number of rhinos killed so far this year is 245. South Africa is just one of many countries faced with ...
Amazing Species Profile
Final Technical Report
SOS - Save Our Species
>> A global coalition to conserve threatened species and their habitats