The Programme SADC Regional Programme for Rhino Conservation
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The Programme

Rhino conservation needs to be supported through regional initiatives for a number of reasons related both to the general benefits of regional cooperation and specific requirements of rhino populations.

The management of rhino populations requires significant technical expertise and know-how, institutional capacity, financial resources, specialised equipment and moreover a conducive policy context. Without these critical capacities, efforts to conserve remnant rhino populations are often frustrated. However, where firm conservation measures can be implemented, they invariably boost the general conservation of biodiversity within the areas of rhino project activity. In turn, protected areas with the rhinos tend to have a major direct and regional economic potential.

The SADC region as a whole does not lack the expertise necessary for undertaking the required rhino conservation activities, but this expertise is concentrated in a few countries. There is a strong need to identify institutional and technical weaknesses and to build and strengthen capacities in the region to provide a reliable institutional and technical infrastructure which can sustain and benefit rhino conservation efforts in the long term.














The rationale for a regional approach to rhino conservation also arises from the needs of
metapopulation management. With rhinos, the need to achieve this metapopulation management is complicated by inadequate information on the status and location of fragmented rhino groups in several SADC states.

To obtain the required information, from field surveys, is a specialised and often costly task; funding is not readily available for such work owing to the massive funding demands that already exist for conservation activities in various other areas where larger numbers of rhinos are already under some form of management. 

Once rhinos are proven to be present in a particular area (which is likely to be remote and difficult to operate in), a problem then arises in that any management activity such as capture and translocations require scarce expertise, specialised equipment and funding. Unless the capacity exists to undertake such management, there is little point in investing resources in finding surviving rhinos in the first place; in fact, surveys may do more harm than good if they merely serve to expose rhinos which were previously undetected by poachers. Whether remnant rhino groups are left in situ or are moved to refuges elsewhere, they will require ongoing protection and monitoring which will in turn require training and capacity building through regional cooperation.

Based on this rationale, the Programme intends to provide and share expertise, specialised logistical and technical support, training, information and catalytic funding for selected regional rhino conservation targets, through a coordinated regional mechanism, in close cooperation with relevant regional and national bodies.

The Southern African Development Community is the regional intergovernmental body which comprises Angola , Botswana , Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho , Malawi , Mauritius , Mozambique , Namibia , Seychelles , South Africa , Swaziland , Tanzania , Zambia and Zimbabwe . The SADC Regional Programme for Rhino Conservation involves SADC member countries within the range of the target rhino subspecies.

By establishing regional coordination in the management of the endangered and charismatic rhino species, it is intended that a precedent will be created within SADC so that this coordination can be extended to other wildlife species that should be managed at a regional rather than at a local level.