Namibia: Swakopmunder 'Adopts' Young Rhino

NSPIRED by the story of the black rhino in Namibia, Nicky Schubert, a 28-year-old Swakopmund resident, made history recently when she was the first individual Namibian to ‘adopt’ a black rhino.

For the next year, Nicky is the proud sponsor – she pays just under N$1 000 a month – of a young black rhino calf as part of the Save the Rhino Trust’s (SRT) Sponsor a Rhino programme.

Along with her sponsorship certificate, Nicky was given the chance to name the year-old youngster. Inspired by the Twilight saga, Nicky named her young rhino calf Renesmee – the hybrid offspring of a human and vampire couple.

Nicky says she was inspired to give a helping hand to the SRT after she and her husband attended an SRT open day.

“I didn’t know you could actually sponsor a rhino,” she says.

The cost of sponsoring an adult rhino was more than she could afford, but after negotiations, the Save the Rhino Trust agreed that Nicky could sponsor the calf at nearly half the cost. Sue Wagner of the SRT says despite the cost Nicky “was determined to get involved and show that she cared”.

The sponsorship is for a year, but Nicky says she is confident she will continue to sponsor Renesmee.

“It’s a really great feeling and a nice thing to have. Everybody always goes on about having a new dog or cat. I can say I’ve got a rhino calf.”

Nicky says she is an animal lover and sees this as another way to chip in to help Namibian animals thrive.

“You can do it. You earn a salary. And I just decided this is what I am going to do. I’m all about animals.”

Next year Nicky plans to visit Renesmee and her mother Rachel during a field trip in the SRT operational area. Wagner says with the help of some skilful trackers and a bit of luck, she may be rewarded with a sighting of ‘her’ rhino calf.

Wagner explains that the cost involved in ‘adopting’ a rhino covers the bills for the trust to continue monitoring and patrolling the desert-adapted black rhino of the Kunene.

She says the recent poaching incident in the Kunene Region – the first in 17 years – has made the protection and monitoring of these unique rhino, the largest truly free-ranging black rhino population on Earth, more important than ever before.