Mount Etjo RHINO Trust
Around 80 rhinos have been poached in Namibia in 2015. Although the frequency of these incidents is not even comparable yet to the roughly 1200 rhinos being poached annually in South Africa, we need to be prepared that once the more easily accessible rhino populations have been depleted, reckless poaching will without doubt hit Namibia as well, extending to the last and final resort of protected rhinos in private resorts, such as Mount Etjo.
Etosha and other concession areas are in immediate danger due to the sheer complexities, bureaucratic issues and financial burdens involved in securing such large government-owned areas. However, it is not the first time our far-sighted Namibian government has recognized the potential of involving private land owners in the fight against poaching, acknowledging that the good will, determination, good business sense and most importantly, the transparent honesty of private organisations may be key to ensuring the more wide-spread and organised survival of this species.
By widely distributing and translocating breeding individuals to more safe privately owned areas, it is hoped that several nuclei of populations may survive the threat, as they have done before in the 1960s, and be the source of a new generation of rhinos sometime in the future.
Mount Etjo Safari Lodge and Okonjati Game Reserve, founded by legendary conservationist Jan Oelofse and his family, is preparing NOW to be of assistance to the individual rhinos who can be saved, protected and nurtured to reproduce - to hopefully save the entire species from extinction. It is our privilege and pride to be amongst those chosen as trusted custodians of a National treasure.
In the past, we have coordinated activities to protect the rhinos entrusted to us on our own account, carrying the responsibility and financial burdens through our own business as Mount Etjo Safari Lodge. However, the increasing threats all over Namibia and, on the other hand, the outspoken and sincere interest of the local and overseas public in this topic, have resulted in the involvement of other parties in the fight against poaching and the foundation of the MOUNT ETJO RHINO TRUST.
It is our aim to create a “place of refugee”, as Mount Etjo is called, for both black and white rhinos, where these animals may roam freely without too much invasive intrusion into their natural habitat and life cycle. We are against de-horning or confining these proud animals to smaller spaces, it is our belief that in their natural surroundings they will thrive best. Secondly, we wish to share our compassion for rhinos with visitors to and supporters of Mount Etjo, with those who are interested, who respect and treasure and uphold the values of all life.
- Build infrastructure to host a larger number of orphaned rhinos
- Cover the costs for milk supplies, veterinary visits and medications if needed
- Employ enough guides to watch over, feed and protect young rhinos
2.Protect local Rhinos from poaching activities
- Cover costs for regular surveillance helicopter flights
- Finance CCTV camera supervision
- Keeping infrastructure, such as fencing and water holes, intact
- Feeding of rhinos during droughts
- Employment of independent securities
- Employment of guides for surveillance on ground level
- Equipping guides with binoculars, tents and other equipment
- Proper training of guides
- Generate youtube videos
- Exposure on facebook
- Information to lodge visitors
- Selling of products such as rhino T-shirts
- Monthly newsletters to members
- Collaboration with local musician EES, tequila producers TresCavallos (Texas), youtuber Kinessa Johnston
- Mount Etjo Rhino Protection Fund
- Provide FEEDBACK to all donors and stakeholders on the achievements and fall backs through various channels such as facebook, email, newsletters
5.Support other local initiatives
- Working together with the Ministry of Environment & Tourism (Birgit Kötting)
- “Help our Rhino Now” Namibia – HoRN
Annette Oelofse has already raised several black and white rhinos, her successes are above all testament to her dedication and passion for rhinos. The first black rhino that she raised, Nossie, is now 18 years old, has long been integrated into the wild, and has successfully given birth to 7 calves of her own. Saving this one life has thus already contributed significantly to the survival of the species. The following years Annette has raised another black rhino, Floppy, and another white rhino, Ombepo, adding to her experience and unparalleled understanding of rhino behaviour.
In 2015, as a direct and indirect outcome of poaching activities on other game farms, Annette was once again called upon by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to take another two black rhinos under her wing. !Xhi and Yandja, female and male, are around 9 months old and have adjusted extremely well. Both rhinos enjoy regular feeding sessions five times a day and the continuous attention of a guide and Annette.
Once old enough to fend for themselves, both Yandja and !Xhi will be released on Mount Etjo property.
1.Protect local Rhinos from poaching activities and tend to their wellbeing
Mount Etjo currently employs 2 independent securities who patrol the area, as well as two watchmen at the boarders and several field guides to ensure the supervision of the area and its boarders. One of the guides was selected to attend a military rhino protection course, and is currently in charge of the protection unit. The perimeter fence is patrolled every day and CCTV cameras at strategic points facilitate the quick and easy detection of any malpractice. Both Alexander & Annette Oelofse regularly patrol the area by helicopter. While there have in the past few years been several attacks on rhinos in National parks and on private game farms, not a single poaching incident has taken place at Mount Etjo.
In years 2014 and 2015, all animals at Mount Etjo Safari Lodge had to be fed on supplementary alfalfa for several months of severe drought. The white rhinos in particular were highly dependent on this additional feed. Approximately 6.5 tons of alfalfa were fed a day, amounting to millions of Namibian Dollars being spent over the entire dry season. While some rhinos in the National parks were reported to have died of starvation, rhinos at Mount Etjo Safari Lodge all survived these dry periods.
Information in the form of posters and T-shirts is supplied to visitors from around the world at Mount Etjo Safari Lodge. Our aim is to build an extensive information centre to provide more info.
We hope to have our own youtube channel and to regularly send out newsletters and posts on facebook to win more followers to our worthy cause. TresCaballos is in the process of starting a youtube competition for a video that can win the best candidate a trip to Mount Etjo. Musician EES has posted several videos on youtube to inform the public about Mount Etjo and its rhinos. EES will be visiting Mount Etjo Safari Lodge with a group of very famous youtubers again on 21st March 2016.
EES has generously donated N$1000 and Euros 10 000 in two separate events to “HoRN”.
At least 50 T-shirts have been sold at Mount Etjo souvenir shop, 50% of the profit going directly to the Mount Etjo Rhino Trust.
Little SOPHIA JACOBI has started her own youtube channel to help generate funds and awareness back at her home in Texas, USA! Watch Sophia while she assists Annette in taking care of orphaned rhinos here:
4.Support other local initiatives
Mount Etjo Safari Lodge is a member of HoRN and works in close collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
You can become a proud supporter of our Mount Etjo RHINO community! Simply write us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Membership is free! You will be updated on current rhino issues, receive our newsletters and stand to win prizes for upcoming competitions - watch this space! This is only the beginning!
Donations are welcome - ALL DONATIONS and respective donor names (unless wishing to remain anonymous) will be made available to our supporters and receive a T-shirt for a siginficant donation. We will display and summarize where funds have been allocated to. We want all donors to be aware of how their contributions have helped save our rhinos.
Here are our official RHINO TRUST banking details:
MOUNT ETJO SAFARI TRUST
BRANCH CODE: 481573