15 April 2015
Independent Investigator's report
Independent investigator found no evidence or suspicions of any of the Save the Rhino Trust Namibia staff being involved in poaching.
In December 2014, the Trustees of Save the Rhino Trust Namibia (SRT) launched an internal investigation in response to newspaper reports that alleged that Save the Rhino Trust staff was complicit in rhino poaching in the Kunene region.
The investigation was extensive. The Investigator and assistant spent 76 days including weekends and holidays on the ground, working 10 hour days, traveling 18,629 kilometers, conducting interviews in Damara-Nama, Herero, Afrikaans, English and German, and using a network of informers.
The Independent Investigator’s report has been shared with Save the Rhino Trust’s Board of Trustees and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
The results are as follows:
- Independent investigator categorically clears SRT CEO, Simson Uri-Khob, of any involvement in rhino poaching.
- Further finds that Uri-Khob has not withheld any information or knowledge about poaching and passed all relevant information to NamPol’s Protected Resource Unit (PRU).
- Investigator found no evidence of any of SRT staff being involved in poaching.
- The Investigator found no evidence to suggest that the Camel Team was complicit in poaching. The Investigator examined deeds of sale and bank statements that clear SRT staff members from allegations that they purchased vehicles using money acquired by suspicious means, ie poaching.
- Investigator believes that certain staff members have been intimidated by criminal syndicates. These staff members have been identified and recommendations will be followed.
- The investigation has uncovered a great deal of evidence (unrelated to SRT), which has been passed to NamPol's Protected Resource Unit who is still actively working on all leads.
- The investigation gathered invaluable intelligence about the poaching syndicates, which will help SRT's trustees and management to respond to the future poaching threat.
Given the scope of the results to date and the current environment where poachers are operating in the area, the SRT Board of Trustees has secured funding to increase the investigator's remit and will continue to develop knowledge about poaching in the Kunene region in order to direct SRT patrol efforts and other initiatives.
SRT patrols and monitoring continued uninterrupted during the investigation and have in fact been strengthened.
SRT remains committed to working with its partners in the communities, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Special Forces Unit, NACSO Natural Resource Working Group, NamPol's Protected Resources Unit, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), the Kunene Rhino Protection Unit, Rhino Rangers and WWF-Namibia in protecting the black rhinos of the Kunene Region.
SRT wishes to thank its loyal supporters and donors for standing by the organization during the investigation and for their continued support in helping us Save the Rhino. SRT also acknowledges the dedication of its management and staff, who showed unwavering commitment to the cause, despite the distraction of the investigation and public allegations.
Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia has been successfully protecting the desert-adapted black rhino of the Kunene and Erongo regions for 30 years. Working closely with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, our dedicated teams of trackers go out on daily foot/camel/donkey and vehicle patrols to monitor this last truly free-ranging population of black rhino in the world. With South Africa's poaching crisis raging on our doorstep, we need your support NOW to continue our work and save these magnificent and unique creatures for future generations to enjoy.
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