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SOS Rhino : In the News : Thieves Steal Computer Containing Jumbo Data

Thieves Steal Computer Containing Jumbo Data

  The Namibian (Windhoek)
August 27, 2003

Maggi Barnard

A YEAR'S worth of extremely important desert elephant data was lost when a laptop computer belonging to the Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) was stolen at Swakopmund recently.

The laptop was stolen from the vehicle of the SRT's Blythe Loutit as she was buying petrol at a garage at Swakopmund about two weeks ago.

Loutit told The Namibian the Hewlett & Packard (HP) laptop was in its carry bag lying on the floor on the passenger side of her vehicle with the door locked.

She got out to check the oil with the petrol attendant.

She believes the laptop was taken from the vehicle when she was at the front of the vehicle with the bonnet open.

"It was only when I got back to the office that I could not find the computer. All the data on the elephant project for the past year was on there," said Loutit, who was still in shock over the loss.

The elephant project is run on a similar basis as the rhino project, involving local communities in identifying and keeping records of animals.

Loutit said the data included identity photographs of elephants, GPS records, movements, sizes of herds and many more details about elephants in the Sesfontein area of the Kunene Region.

The project has been funded by the US Fish & Wildlife Service for two years.

It was coming up for renewal again.

Loutit was working on an annual report for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and other role players.

"My deadline was end of the month, which I will definitely not make as I will have to start all over again," she said.

Loutit is offering a reward of N$5 000 for the return of her laptop with the data intact.

The laptop is fairly new and was donated to her by the David Shepherd Foundation after she won a BBC Animal Award at the end of 2001.

She said it was vital to get back the data.

Loutit can be contacted at tel. 064 - 403829 or cell 081 127 9464.