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The annual Rhino Conservation Awards took place in August at Montecasino in Johannesburg, South Africa. Dr Edna Molewa, South African Minister of Environmental Affairs, celebrated the winners, runners-up and nominees who have made a marked impact in the war against rhino poaching.

Founders of the awards Dr Larry Hansen and Miss Xiaoyang Yu expressed their appreciation for every action taken against all forms of poaching, at all levels. “Congratulations to all of the participants and winners of the awards. It is a privilege to celebrate your work and your efforts to protect Africa’s rhino,” said Dr Hansen. “Know that we will continue to stand at your side, as every effort is recognised and appreciated.”

The winner of the Conservation Practitioner Award was the entire Kruger National Park’s Marula  South ranger team. The runners-up were the Namibian Conservancy Rhino Ranger Incentive Programme, and SANParks’ regional ranger Don English and section ranger Craig Williams.

Although the Rhino Ranger Incentive Programme did not come first, it plays a key role in combatting wildlife crime and wildlife trafficking in Namibia. Winning in the fight to save the rhino is the main concern, and the passion of all engaged. The programme started in 2011 when local community leaders and game guards saw the need to improve their capacity to protect the rhino on their lands and better fulfil their obligations as Rhino Custodians. A small group of dedicated field conservationists together with support from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism formed an informal working group that sought to provide targeted support to these Communal Rhino Custodians.

The Rhino Incentive Programme utilizes specialists from dedicated field-based organizations, namely Save the Rhino Trust, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation, and Minnesota Zoo, to train a new generation of “rhino rangers” – highly talented groups of local people, chosen by and accountable to their communities to conduct rhino monitoring and, more recently, lead rhino tracking tourism activities and provide local outreach. The programme is one of the approaches Namibia is using to deal with the increase in rhino poaching. Read more at: https://communitiesforwildlife.iied.org/rhino-rangers-incentive-programme

Biz community and Namibia Nature Foundation