Jon T. Peterson
The Black Rhino Custodians of Namibia
In 1993 the Black Rhino Custodianship program was launched in Namibia. Its goal is to increase the number of black rhinos through better protection and to reintroduce them back to their historical habitats in Namibia. To achieve this goal, black rhino are relocated from national parks to private land and conservancies so that they may be better protected from poachers.
The custodians include 25 private companies and farms plus 10 communal conservancies. Together they provide 8.58 million acres of habitat and host an estimated 710 black rhinos. The custodians underwent detailed evaluation process to include the size of the property, the type habitat, availability of water and the risk of disease. Also considered were the custodian's anti-poaching capability and experience with other protected species. Finally, it is important to note that all black rhinos in Namibia are state property. As such they may not be sold or hunted.
It may be surprising then that one of the biggest supporters of the program is the Namibia Professional Hunting Association. In 2019, NAPHA presented its Conservationist of the Year Award to the 35 custodians for their selfless efforts. The custodians, many of them NAPHA members, derive no direct benefit from the rhinos in their care. As mentioned all black rhino belong to the state and cannot be sold or hunted. They may be used for photo tourism but because of poachers the custodians prefer to keep their location secret. So rather than seeking financial gain, the custodians incur considerable costs. They are responsible for the safety of the rhinos entrusted to them and must provide anti-poaching patrols.
To help with these costs the AWCC decided to provide some financial support to one of the custodians who is a member of NAPHA. To keep the rhino's location a secret we have to let that custodian remain anonymous. Just know that we are grateful for the efforts of this custodian and we are proud to support them.