The desert-adapted black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis) surviving in the Kunene Region (former Damaraland and Kaokoland) in the arid, north-west of Namibia are the only rhino worldwide, surviving on communal land with no formal conservation status. Furthermore, they are the largest truly free-ranging black rhino population left in the world.
However, in the early 1980’s in this vast, beautiful and spectacular desert, a savage slaughter of desert wildlife took place. As the number of rhinos shrank, resulting in their 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 the help of international funds, Save the Rhino Trust - Namibia was officially registered as Welfare Organization number W.O. 53.in 1982.
Initially, a combination of ex-poachers and members of the local community were employed by Save the Rhino Trust to monitor and protect the rhino. 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 Trust was formed, there has been close collaboration with Government, the local communities, and both 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 benefit to the community through conservation and tourism.
SRT has an administrative office in Swakopmund, and field bases at the Ugab River, Wereldsend, Mai Go Ha (Palmwag) and Mbakondja. The organisation is consists of a committed staff of local Namibians who have spent the better part of their lives living with black rhinos in the Kunene. These dedicated people constantly monitor on foot, with camels, by air and by vehicle in a concerted effort to protect these rare and critically endangered animals.