In joint collaboration with Save the Rhino Trust, and local conservancies a Rhino Pride campaign is being implemented in Kunene. The implementation of the campaign is being undertaken following a baseline survey that was conducted in key Rhino Range conservancies in 2016. Through this campaign, The Rhino Friend Forever Pledge (and the RFF Pledge slogan) was launched at the Ongwediva Trade Fair in northern Namibia – one of the most popular events of the year. The idea was simple; engage trade fair goers in the plight of rhinos and why/how we should save them. If inspired, people pledge to become Rhino Friend Forever by signing their name on a pledge poster and wearing their RFF button and/or sticker. In total, we participated in three trade fairs including Ongwediva Trade Fair, Otjiwarongo Trade Fair, and Opuwo Rhino Cup in Opuwo and accumulated over 3,000 pledges.
Other activities included the establishment of Rhino Pride Youth Clubs as an avenue for the Youth to share information on wildlife crime. Each Youth Clubs have selected a Leader. Furthermore, about 200 learners from key Schools were reached. Reaching out to the farmers and herders remains a critical component, therefore farmers were engaged to provide input on the proposed Rhino Friendly Farming initiative. Different Traditional Authority Groups mainly in two key critical conservancies were engaged throughout the year.
Ahead of the International World Rhino Day, Eben Tjiho from IRDNC disseminated information about rhino conservation through the Otjiherero Radio Service (known as Omurari). Information disseminated through Otjiherero services reaches thousands of people across the country particularly in rural areas. Since most rural Namibians still depends on Radio communication, it is expected that this intervention is very critical.
Currently IRDNC has one vehicle and three dedicated staff (1 full-time, and 2 part-time) conducting monthly rhino monitoring patrols with the Game Guards and Rhino Rangers from the respective conservancies. Rhino patrols primarily covered three key rhino areas within conservancy land and adjacent land. The team walks on average 25 km/day, and covering a distance of about 1800 to 2500 km/month. No incidents of rhino poaching were recorded in the areas patrolled, and this achievement is attributed to the joint efforts between local communities and the field partners.