A field day in Waterberg Plateau Park
(A version of this article was originally published in The Horn, spring 2013. Author: Cathy Dean, Director)
The US Fish and Wildlife Service convened 45 experts from across African rhino range states to address rhino security from November 25-29, 2012 in Waterberg Plateau Park in Namibia. Participants included wildlife managers, security experts and law enforcement officers working on rhino conservation in Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The meeting brought together field practitioners working to protect Africa’s rhino populations in East and Southern Africa, in order to identify diplomatic interventions and technological equipment that could vastly improve rhino survival.
The meeting provided the opportunity to:
- introduce field practitioners to others facing similar challenges
- allow field people to share knowledge on which techniques and technologies are working and which are not, and under what conditions/circumstances
- to advise USFWS and other US Government agencies on how best to contribute to improved rhino security through technology or policy
The meeting was confidential, so I can’t tell you too much about it, but here are some photos from the day we escaped the conference room for some practical demonstrations.
Waterberg Plateau Park provided a fantastic backdrop for our meeting. The Park is home to black and white rhino
Rhino experts, all in safari gear, getting wildly excited by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Joe and Gisela Noci of Wide Horizons later very kindly presented this drone to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, along with a flight instruction manual for Pierre du Preez
MET’s veterinarians immobilised two white rhinos, with various experts showing us how to implant horn transmitters and microchips; how to collect DNA samples; how to fit a satellite bracelet; how to dehorn a rhino; and how to use a metal detector to check for bullets
A close-up of the freshly removed horn. The vets are always careful to leave enough of the base that the animal and the horn’s regrowth are not damaged