Save Our Species

We are delighted to announce that Save Our Species awarded a grant of $100,000 to Save the Rhino International in December 2011, to support the Field Patrolling and Monitoring Programme run by Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) in Namibia. For more information about Save the Rhino Trust and its work, click here.

Field patrolling and monitoring is core to SRT’s work and represents approximately 75% of the trackers’ time. The data collected and evaluated are crucial to the maintenance of the comprehensive database held by MET that informs decisions on the management of the Kunene black rhino population. The teams patrol by vehicle, plane, on foot, and by camel / donkey, in order to cover the 25,000km2 area.

The grant is specifically supporting the following activities under the objectives for Field patrolling and monitoring:

Objective 1: Maintain a consistent ground / air reconnaissance and patrolling presence for black rhino across its range in the Kunene to act as a deterrent against poaching or other illegal activities, and liaise with MET and the Protected Resource Unit to address infractions

Aerial patrolling

The Cessna 210 fixed-wing aircraft is used in the following ways:

  • Air-to-ground contact, which allows ground teams to have GPS coordinates relayed to them by aircraft and vice versa. This improves response time to and monitoring of pedestrian / livestock movement and trespass into key rhino areas. It also allows better / closer identification of suspicious vehicles observed in key rhino areas
  • General surveillance along boundaries of tourism concessions and at entry points to different Eco Zones
  • Movement of staff and equipment should emergencies arise
  • Acts as a spotter and observation platform during capture operations

Ground patrolling

On foot, by vehicle, and by camel and donkey, patrols take place on a cycle of 30 days on, 7 days off. Whilst in the field, trackers are provided with basic rations as well as camping and monitoring equipment. SRT’s trackers work from four permanent base camps and patrols typically entail departing at first light by vehicle or camel to search for fresh rhino spoor and then following on foot. Different types of patrols take place:

  • Full patrol: extended periods of up to 19 days in the field, allowing the teams to cover as much ground as possible
  • Rapid patrol: deployments targeted to look for specific animals that may not have been seen for a specified period
  • Remote camera patrol: deployment of infra-red cameras for monitoring and security purposes
  • Night-time vehicle patrols: sporadic patrols on main roads

Objective 2: Monitor and report on black rhino numbers and distribution, conflicts between wildlife and human activity, incidents of Human-Induced Disturbance (H-ID), rainfall, springs and human / livestock infractions into areas zoned specifically / solely for wildlife

Monitoring and reporting

SRT’s patrols:

  • identify individual rhino using rhino identification cards that include information on age, sex, ear notches (natural or man-made), horn size and shape
  • photograph each rhino sighted for comparison against database
  • record exact location of animals sighted and water springs found
  • report any mortalities (natural or poaching) and new calves born
  • report any poaching incidents (all species), water availability, unusual / suspicious activity in the area, encroachment of people / livestock into wildlife-designated areas and any Human Induced Disturbance

Objective 3: Compile all data forms, photos and other information related to wildlife sightings from field operations, conduct quality control on these data, and ensure that databases are updated and maintained in collaboration with MET

Data verification

These data are recorded on patrol data sheets, which are then analysed by SRT’s senior staff..

The corrected information is delivered to MET for entry into the Kunene Rhino Database. MET then collates and reports findings to Namibia’s Rhino Technical Advisory Group (meets twice per year) and Rhino Management Group (meets once per year) and to the IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group (meets every 2-3 years).

About Save Our Species

Save Our Species logoSave Our Species is a joint initiative of the Global Environment Facility, the IUCN and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure the long-term survival and well being of threatened species and their critical habitats for biodiversity conservation.

For more information about Save Our Species, please visit their website,