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.

I will start out by saying that sleeping under that stars in Namibia is quite amazing…until the hyenas come. Then it’s a little terrifying, but still amazing. Earlier this week we had another early morning and set out with a group of Rhino Rangers to check out more rhinos in the area and see which ones we could find. These guys are so good at what they do.

After several attempts after finding pretty fresh rhino tracks, we located a male rhino in the area. We all quietly walked closer after we made sure we were down-wind (because we were with trained experts) to better examine and identify which rhino we found. The Rhino Rangers use a series of body marks to help identify each individual animal and take detailed notes on behaviors in a notebook, in which the notes are sent off to be entered into a database to be analyzed. No matter how many times we encounter a wild black rhino, I still get chills. It’s such an amazing feeling and really motivates me to continue doing whatever we can do to help protect them for the future.

Afterwards, we made our way back to the truck, did some filming with rhino rangers and Jeff and then headed back to Wereldsend. We also drove to Palwag to check out the field camp there. Had a blast working with a different group of Rhino Rangers, as well as checking out the set-up there. It was great to check out everything the Minnesota Zoo helped supply the station with – a new computer and monitor for the Rangers to review their work. This place is incredible and we are learning so much more about the very real struggles that the desert black rhino is facing in the wild. I am so humbled by the amazing work already being done, but there’s always more people can do to help.

We can’t believe tonight is our last night in Namibia, but we are so excited to head back to Cape Town tomorrow to check out some cool conservation organizations working to save sharks and African penguins!

Minnesota Zoo's Jeff Muntifering with Save the Rhino Trust staff working on the new computer and monitor set-up supported by the Minnesota Zoo. Some of the "locals" along the road... Critically endangered black rhino in the Namibian desert. Minnesota Zoo's Jeff Muntifering with several Rhino Rangers after a successful patrol. This is the notebook Rhino Rangers use to record/ID the rhinos they sight in the field while on their patrols.