Tracking Desert Rhinos On Foot In Namibia

Photo: Black desert-adapted rhino Unies

Desert rhino tracking on foot took us deep into the rocky mountains and gravel plains of Damaraland. We were inside the 450,000-hectare Palmwag Concession, where rhinos roam freely across the desert of Namibia. Desert-adapted black rhinos have large home ranges and aren’t easy to find, even for local trackers.

Over the past 30 years, the Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) has protected rhinos in the Kunene and Erongo regions. Some of the trackers used to be poachers, but now protect the animals they once hunted for their horns. Black rhinos are smaller than white rhinos, but are more aggressive and can charge if they feel threatened.

At Desert Rhino Camp, we rose early from our Meru-style safari tent and drove along the rough roads to where the tracking team was waiting. On the way we saw all sorts of arid-adapted wildlife, including gemsbok, kudu, southern giraffe, Hartmann’s mountain zebra and a lone desert elephant near a freshwater spring.

Photo: A desert-adapted elephant near a freshwater spring

Our rhino tracking safari was led by head ranger Marthin Nuwaseb and his team of four local trackers. The tracking team set out on patrol before sunrise to look for rhinos, a task that can sometimes take all day. Luckily for us, Marthin can read the desert like a map and found fresh rhino spoor near the dried-up Uniab River.

Photo: A lone gemsbok standing by the side of one of the rocky roads

Walking in single file, we followed the rhino tracks along the sandy riverbed, staying as quiet as possible. With the desert sun beating down on our heads, the only sounds were the stones crunching beneath our feet. Some time later, Marthin stopped, put his hand up and waved us forward over the top of —> Read More