By Wezi Tjaronda
The Director of Research at Save the Rhino Trust, Simson !Uri ≠Khob, will in May make a presentation on community ecotourism and the black rhino at the IUCN Africa Rhino Specialist Group conference in Tanzania.
The presentation’s findings are based on a survey that he conducted in three conservancies in the Kunene region to examine people’s attitudes and perceptions on the reintroduction of the black rhino in the conservancies.
!Uri ≠Khob will present his findings at a meeting of the Africa Rhino Specialist Group, which meets every two years. !Uri ≠Khob was appointed to the specialist group in 2005. His attendance of the meeting, to be held between May 24 and 29, has been made possible by Tou Trust and Wilderness Safaris, which will sponsor his accommodation, and meals and air ticket respectively.
!Uri ≠Khob said this week his presentation will be based on communal conservancies and its benefits looking at how people feel about the rhinos moving back into the communal areas.
The black rhino is Namibia’s flagship species. Namibia has the largest free ranging black rhino population in the world.
The survey was done in ≠Khoadi //Hoas, Huab and Omatendeka conservancies in the Kunene region.
According to Conservation Magazine, there was strong support towards conserving wildlife and the introduction of the rhino, with the most support for the introduction coming from Omatendeka, which had 93 percent, //Huab with 87 percent and ≠Khoadi //Hoas with 80 percent.
The survey also found that the majority of respondents felt that conservancy committees and community game guards should be responsible for wildlife monitoring in their conservancies.
Positive attitudes were noted from households that already benefit from the conservancy and those that live close to conservancies with benefit-sharing schemes.
Last year, six black rhinos were moved back into communal area conservancies consisting of two from west Kunene and four from Etosha to the south Kunene.
This year, there are plans to move six more black rhinos from the Etosha and northwest Kunene to the south of the region.
Uri ≠Khob joined the SRT as a mechanical supervisor but later developed interest in rhino and elephants. He did a course on elephant identification ageing and sexual course and also did a Masters of Science Degree at the University of Kent in the UK.
Two years later, !Uri ≠Khob did a research project on the attitudes of the local people towards the reintroduction of the black rhino to their historical range and was awarded an MSc with merit.
According to Uri ≠Khob, the population of black rhinos is growing.