The black rhino conservation program in Namibia is one of the most successful and groundbreaking of its kind- and the past year garnered even more recognition for these critical efforts.

Namibia supports over one-third of the world’s remaining black rhinos and is home to one of the last free-roaming populations in the world. The dedicated Rhino Rangers, community members, support staff and scientists have been working tirelessly to save this population from extinction for decades, and with truly remarkable success.

By focusing more on community-led conservation and support, rather than a strictly policing approach to poaching, Save the Rhino Trust and its many collaborators have managed to bring back the critically endangered population of black rhino in the Namib desert. Due to these remarkable grassroots efforts, this area has not seen a single poaching event in over 3.5 years.

A Rhino Ranger in training. Photo: Marcus Westberg.

The data have been meticulously tracked and tallied and the results are in- 2023 was a record year for Rhino Ranger performance. These wildlife heroes collectively spent over 12,600 days in the field tracking rhinos, logged nearly 4,000 rhino sightings, and together walked approximately 40,000 miles, or nearly two full laps around planet Earth.

The past year also brought an exciting and promising new development for the world of wildlife conservation. In early 2023, the Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism reintroduced free-ranging black rhino into their historical range in northeastern Namibia.  To support this ground-breaking initiative, our long-time Namibian conservation partner Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) was requested by both the government and local communities to share their unrivalled experiences and expertise in community-based rhino conservation. Over the past year this has involved establishing a new Conservancy Rhino Ranger team with the Nyae Nyae Conservancy including more than a dozen local rangers trained and equipped to conduct monthly patrols with SRT senior staff. Biologists and community members are hopeful that this area will be able to support a robust population of black rhino in the coming years.

Reading with Rhinos. Photo: Marcus Westberg.

Integral to the success of the rhino conservation efforts is the empowerment and education of local community members. The very successful and popular Reading with Rhinos project continues to grow with its arrival in the northeastern portion of the country. By training 11 local teachers from one main primary school and seven village schools, this initiative will help improve literacy while enhancing pride, gratitude and compassion for rhino with over 330 grade 1 and 2 students.

The future of our world’s wildlife is inextricably linked with our own, as is our collective past. The black rhino conservation efforts in Namibia are a shining example of how our success is only made greater when we work with and for nature, not against it.