Zimbabwe- has a poverty rate at 63%, faces economic crisis and questionable human rights violations. Yet this unsettled country may hold the key to rhino conservation.
This is thanks to the Lowveld Rhino Trust. The LRT is centrally involved in the protection of 90% of the country’s black rhinos in private reserves. With most of Zimbabwe facing the same loss of rhino as other African countries, LRT is solely responsible for a 10% increase in the black rhino population.
Since 2009, they have worked tenaciously against poaching, attempting to slowly rebuild the rhino population. No easy feat, as they are in the midst of their country’s political and economic turmoil and unrest.
So how do they do it?
Like other efforts across the African continent, they relocate rhinos from unsafe areas to higher protection zones. They fight the same fight, stepping up anti-poaching units, maintaining security and tending to individual rhinos.
Yet the key to their success may lie in their localized efforts. They provide support to the local schools, the amount of their efforts and contribution directly hinging on the rhino growth population. If the rhino populations are thriving, schools receive extra funds from the LRT. If poaching is taking its toll, the funds are removed and applied to extra anti-poaching units.
The idea is to provide incentive to the people to save their rhino, in turn this applies pressure on the poachers from their own communities. As diligent as anti-poaching units are, they cannot be everywhere all the time, so this gives them additional “eyes” and “ears” on the ground.
Win for the rhinos, win for the people.