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SOS Rhino : In the News : The Rare Damaraland Rhino Make Whoopee

The Rare Damaraland Rhino Make Whoopee

  The Namibian

December 2, 2004
Posted to the web December 2, 2004

Maggi Barnard

THE small population of black rhino in the southern part of Kunene and northern Erongo Region is vital to Namibia.

The 11 rhino living in the western Ugab River, Doros Crater and Twyfelfontein area are the most southern natural population of rhino in the country.

Four rhino calves born in this area were recently recorded.

"This increase in numbers makes this population extremely important," says Bern Brell of Save the Rhino Trust (SRT).

The desert-adapted black rhino of this area is extremely rare and highly endangered.

The Namibian sub-species has survived in the area near the Brandberg and Doros Crater for millions of years.

"However, the continued survival of this species depends on strict conservation measures in areas where the last few still exist," says Brell.

These desert-adapted rhino are unique, and represent the last population of rhino worldwide that has survived in desert conditions.

The Namibian black rhino is recognised by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) through the Species Survival Commission, as a highly endangered species of wildlife.

They are the last living rhino that inhabit the extremely arid desert areas of Africa.

According to Brell, the rhino range in the Vegkop-Ugab-Doros area - a sparsely populated region where people live under difficult conditions.

He says the terrain is particularly suited to black rhino.

The population was poached to near extinction 20 years ago, but is showing signs of recovery today.

Numbers are increasing following the successful implementation of appropriate conservation measures by the Government through the development of a community-based conservation approach, balanced with intensive field operations and law enforcement.

"The Doros-Vegkop area is extremely fragile and requires continued monitoring to ensure that the rhino are not harassed by unsuitable developments in the area," says Brell.

Black rhino are extremely susceptible to harassment.

Loud sounds, such as firearms, machinery or blasting, affect them so severely that they would abandon an area and stop breeding when continually disturbed by noisy activities.

The SRT has been able to patrol the area more effectively in recent years with the support of a donor, Continental Tyres Namibia.

Following a visit by regional manager Robin Astley to the Ugab Base Camp, he agreed to a yearly donation of six brand-new tyres and inner tubes.

Brell says General Light Truck eight-ply tyres perform well in rugged terrain, as their vehicle is driven in 4x4 most of the time with heavy loads.

The highest mileage so far covered with a set of tyres was 40 000 km.

Continental again donated six new tyres to SRT at the end of October, while TrenTyre Swakopmund fitted and balanced all six tyres free of charge.

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