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.