The Next Generation Conservation Trust Namibia is one of the most ambitious efforts in the war on rhino and elephant poaching in Namibia.
Funded and driven by the Namibian business community, this not-for-profit trust has as its sole aim to put large swatches of Namibia under constant aerial surveillance.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are deployed in problem areas and either stay in the vicinity of protected animals to detect poachers in the area, or patrol conservancies, private breeding programs and reserves to detect potential poachers - day and night.
Your support is needed in this ambitious effort to conserve our animals for the next generation.
We all know the poaching of rhino and elephants in Namibia and South Africa has reached epidemic proportions. Rhino is on the verge of extinction and unless we halt the scourge now, they will soon be little more than a vague memory. Every single day, the news is dire - another four rhino killed, horns hacked off, probably on their way to a syndicate in the east.
Local Namibian businessman, Henri Slabbert, believes he's stood helplessly on the sidelines for way too long: "We all have our jobs putting bread on the table. We cannot afford to hop into the truck and spend a couple of weeks in the bush, trying to assist, point out or track poachers. Attending rallies, although honorable, achieves little on the ground."
Traditionally, anti-poaching efforts have revolved around patrols in the bush, and boots on the ground. Although some successes have been made, the inherent problem with this approach is that a motorised patrol can be heard from some distance away, allowing poachers ample time to lay low and hide. Furthermore, without the aid of very skilled trackers, an experienced poacher can be invisible a mere 20m from you in the bush, and if it's at night when visibility is very poor, the task of flushing them out is near impossible.
These are very real problems, and even Kruger National Park has recently admitted to the almost overwhelming nature of the task. Now that the rhino populations of Mozambique and South Africa are being decimated, the plague is starting to cast its shadow over Namibia.
Slabbert believes: "The fight must go high tech, so we can find these poachers, arrest, prosecute and lock them up."
He first became interested in a hi tech approach when he heard of the success of aerial surveillance in military installations. He began research into deploying aerial surveillance in the poaching problem areas, but first, three hurdles had to be overcome.
- Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) were deployed in Etosha, but due to their limited range, vast areas cannot be patrolled. A UAV with an extended range is needed, one that can remain in the air for many hours.
- Deploying military specification drones is simply too costly. Slabbert felt that civilian solutions - unmanned aerial vehicles - could be deployed at one tenth of the cost.
- And the solution must have the capability to operate twenty-four hours, day and night.
The Next Generation Conservation Trust
When he realized a solution was within their grasp, Henri Slabbert, together with other capable trustees, registered the Next Generation Conservation Trust. The trust provides a gateway for those sectors of the Namibian business community who longed to get involved but didn't know how - now they can provide tangible aid to curb and ultimately stop this poaching plague.
The sole purpose of this not-for-profit trust is to raise funds in order to procure and deploy the UAV equipment so sorely needed in Namibia.