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OPEN LETTER TO ALL SAFARI GROUPS, LODGES AND TOUR OPERATORS

Following are a letter dated 23 October 2000 received from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Namibia.
To all people concerned about Namibia’s black rhinos in the Ugab River, the Huab and the communal land.
We are concerned about the future of our rhino population in the Huab and Ugab Rivers and catchments. In 1999, all four rhino calves under two years of age died. Although we do not know the definitive cause of each calf’s death, we suspect that increased traffic in the smaller riverbeds leaves the rhino with no place to rest, and that this pressure in the area played a significant role.
Rhino cows and their calves usually feed and drink at night and early morning, then rest during the heat of the day. This rest is vital for their bodies to recuperate, digest their food, and regain strength. When a vehicle approaches and disturbs this rest, especially if the animal jumps up and runs, it stresses them much more than we realise. Now imagine if this happens several times during each day. The cow and the calf do not get the rest they need.
They become over-stressed b all the disturbance cause by traffic. Running in the heat of the day causes dehydration. Cows may be too stressed to produce milk for the calf. The calf often simply cannot keep up with its frightened mother and may become lost and may be attacked by lions or hyenas.
The riverbeds are the refuge and food stores for wild animals. Think about it if you are planning to or have already enjoyed driving in one of the riverbeds, looking for rhino’s and other game. It’s a tremendous thrill for you! And then you want to get a little closer for a better look or photo, but then it runs … And you follow …
You never know the consequences of those actions. Because of this, we are asking you to take extra precautions when travelling in the riverbeds. We have asked the Save the Rhino Trust, and the conservancies and their game guards patrolling the area, to help us inform everyone of the need to stop disturbing the rhinos when they are at rest. We ask each tour operator, tour guide and individual traveller to co-operate to protect our valuable rhinos and give them the space and peace they need.
Please remember and practice these sample guidelines:

  • Do not drive in the smaller riverbeds

  • Stay on recognised tracks

  • Do not drive at night

  • Do not disturb any rhinos

  • Do no approach them

  • Never chase a rhino, this can be construed as hunting and is illegal

Camp at least a kilometre away from water holes and animal paths. Keep campfires small and unobtrusive and your noise to a minimum. Your presence can keep rhinos from drinking and/or eating.
Thank you for your understanding and co-operation. Please contact us if your have any queries.
Yours faithfully
Signed : The Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Environment and Tourism
Mr T Erkana.
Tel : +264-61-2842185
Fax : 264-61-229936

rhino.JPG (15303 bytes)

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