Josh Le, Minnesota Zoo’s Communications Manager, is currently in Namibia to help further the Zoo’s mission of connecting people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife. He is working with Save the Rhino Trust and the Minnesota Zoo’s very own, Jeff Muntifering to help save the critically endangered desert black rhino. Read his update from his trip so far and check back soon for more updates.

Wow it’s been an amazing time so far in Namibia! After 29+ hours of traveling, we finally made it and have been hard at work with Rhino Rangers, Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) staff and our very own Jeff Muntifering as we do what we can to help save the critically endangered desert black rhino. The days are long and exhausting, but thank goodness the coffee is quite strong. 🙂

The first few days consisted of more travel, as the airport and city of Windhoek is approximately a 7-hour drive to Jeff’s base in Wereldsend…or “World’s End.” As we made the drive and discussed the current communications situation with SRT’s communications manager, we noted giraffes, baboons, ostrich, warthogs and much more along the side of the road. Typical in Namibia, but pretty crazy for us Minnesotans.

SRT was hosting their first strategic planning meeting in 10 years when we arrived, so everyone, including Jeff was busy discussing the future of  their work to save wild black rhinos. Luckily, Mimi and I were able to connect with Sven Sundgaard, who was also in Namibia to do a story on the country and the work the Minnesota Zoo is contributing to help save the critically endangered species. It was great having a local media personality with us to show the great work that a fellow Minnesota native (Jeff is from Sartell, MN) is doing internationally.

So far have been able to go out rhino tracking with several Rhino Rangers, a program that Jeff developed and leads and it has been quite successful. It has already grown to approximately 35 active rangers so far. We spotted and identified three separate rhinos, as well as a herd of African elephants, zebra and more. I can’t even describe the feeling you get seeing a black rhino in the wilds of Namibia, especially knowing that these beautiful creatures are poached daily in some parts of Southern Africa. Poached for their trademark horns…horns made out of the same material as our hair and fingernails. It’s crazy to think there are only 5,000 black rhinos estimated to be left in the wild.

We can’t wait to continue working with everyone out here for the rest of our time. We have been able to interview several rhino rangers and others. We hope our work to share the struggles this species and those who are working hard to save are facing. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we are so excited to be part of it on behalf of the Minnesota Zoo. Cheers and we’ll connect again soon!

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