The United States of America Ambassador to Namibia - Lisa Johnson, together with the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism (MET)- Hon. Bernadette Jagger and Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) Chief Executive Officer- Simson Uri-Khob, were at the forefront of the World Rhino Day march initiated by the Rhino Pride Youth Group. The parade took place on the streets of Khorixas, Kunene region with numerous young people joining in the march and displaying banners with messages on rhino awareness.
The event celebrated one of the world’s iconic species and raised awareness of the need to protect Namibia’s precious wildlife. “Events such as World Rhino Day are important in engaging communities, the private sector, and other stakeholders in community pride campaigns,” said the US Ambassador. MET Deputy Minister Bernadette Jagger, noted that the celebration was a step forward in creating awareness on wildlife crime and trafficking that threatens the survival of rhinos and other important wildlife resources.
The US Ambassador and the MET Deputy Minister highlighted how wildlife crime obstructs sustainable economic development, including the benefits derived from legal nature-based enterprises such as tourism. Wildlife crime exposes communities that are dependent on natural resources to security threats, loss of their livelihoods and income, and robs them of their cultural heritage.
Rhinos are one of the world’s most endangered species and are currently facing the risk of extinction due to poaching and wildlife trafficking as a result of the multibillion-dollar trade of wildlife parts by international crime syndicates. The governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Namibia, have been working in close partnership to combat wildlife crime and have collaborated in several projects, including the Combating Wildlife Crime Project in Namibia and the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), funded by USAID. One of the project’s aim is to increase the black rhino population in North West Namibia.
Protecting rhino species is not an easy task, individuals spend long hours under the scorching Namibian sun and endure the harsh dry conditions of Namibia’s Kunene region. The hard work of community rhino rangers that have acted as game guards for more than 15 years was recognised through certificates of appreciation, presented to them by the US Ambassador and MET Deputy Minister at the event.
“I am happy to report that our work together is already paying off. I am so encouraged to hear that zero rhinos have been poached over the last two years in the north-western communal areas of Kunene,” said the US Ambassador, Lisa Johnson, who continued “This good news should give us all new hope and encouragement to keep working to save the rhino.”
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