SRT has monitored black rhino in the Kunene since its inception in 1982 and has kept detailed records of each sighting. Since 1994, monitoring information has been compiled in standard form in a coded database, providing long-term data on population status and distribution. Research projects have also been completed on Human Induced Disturbance (HID), on community acceptability of black rhino, on habitat use and vegetation preferences for black rhino, and other topics. These studies, undertaken in collaboration with various academic institutions, international conservation groups, and commercial tourism operators, have aided MET in making key decisions regarding the biological management of the Kunene rhino population. In addition these studies have assisted in the development and refinement of sustainable tourism models and practices. The HID study has significantly helped to establish a black rhino viewing protocol for responsible rhino tourism ventures. SRT also participates as an active member of the African Rhino Specialist Group and supplies data to the Rhino Management Group of southern Africa.
SRT RESEARCH & Evaluation Programme
Contribute to improving knowledge and understanding of desert-adapted black rhino to help in the development of planning and management strategies for its conservation.
- In cooperation with the Director of Field Patrolling & Monitoring, undertake analyses of information from the SRT long-term database related to desert-adapted black rhino.
- Provide empirical data and modelling to assist in the design and implementation of rhino-related tourism practices particularly related to Human Induced Disturbance (e.g. wildlife viewing protocols).
- Provide additional data regarding black rhino habitat use and associations to aid planning and management for conservation and development activities in the region, particularly with regard to compatible land uses.
- Assist in determining regional carrying capacity for tourism based on black rhino habitat requirements and disturbance thresholds.
- Establish collaborative relationships with research organisations and individuals within Namibia and from other jurisdictions to increase technical capacity and capabilities related to black rhino conservation and management, ensure planning and management is up-to-date with international best practices and standards, and to provide additional revenue sources for SRT’s self-sufficiency.
- Develop and implement a long-term research plan to clarify priorities for research activities and clarify the relationship between research activities and planning and management decision-making, including a management plan for the Kunene black rhino population.
- Assist MET in achieving its objectives in the National Rhino Plan with regard to biological management of the Kunene region population.
- Complete the collection of DNA samples from each rhino in the population and analysis thereof with other research organisations.
- Ensure that the Memorandum of Understanding with MET clearly defines current and future research priorities and effort.
Critical Success Factors:
- Establish and maintain clear linkages with MET regarding the goals and objectives of the National Rhino Plan.
- Clarify immediate research priorities to assist with the translocation of black rhino into new areas within the Kunene.
- Ensure the on-going confidentiality of data regarding black rhino in the Kunene is maintained, and clarify through discussions with MET, what SRT data needs to be shared with which parties and under what conditions.
- Collaborate on research projects with MET regional rhino officers if and when such positions are created, and with the Etosha Ecological Institute (EEI) as this organisation assumes greater research responsibilities in the region. Consider opportunities for SRT to be engaged in coordinated research efforts in the region.
- Ensure consistent application of formal agreements regarding data confidentiality and conduct of research projects for researchers working on black rhino in the Kunene.
- Capitalize on partnerships to augment and improve existing capacity within SRT for science and research.
- Promote the publication of research findings from collaborative and/or own projects.