According to the Jaco Muller, founder of the project, the drought has had a huge financial impact on their efforts. "In an average rainy season, we only start feeding a supplementary feed from the end of May until January of the next year, when the new rainy season starts, increasing it gradually towards the end as natural grazing disappears by the end of this period. Normally by January the new rainy season starts and the rhinos stop coming for food as soon as the natural grazing starts to sprout.
"This year, however, we have never stopped feeding and by May, we were already feeding twice a day. Very soon we will be feeding 2,000kg every single day. We now have to feed a full feed diet; this means feeding a total sustainable diet to keep each rhino alive, as there is no more food left out in the bush for them. This will cost us about N$375,000 (R376,950) per month and will definitely increase to much more than N$400,000 (R402,080) per month towards the end of the year," explains Muller.
To date, Rhino Momma has bred 81 calves since 2013, half of which have been sold as part of its efforts to repopulate Namibia and Africa with rhinos. Of the rest, some have become part of its breeding project while others are still young and will become part of its White Rhino Custodian Programme whereby anyone anywhere in the world can "adopt" a rhino at a market-related price and Rhino Momma will arrange for a pre-selected, safe, custodian property to where the rhino will then be moved.
"The custodian property will then look after the rhino for you and you can go and visit it whenever you want to and get regular updates on how it is doing. You and the custodian property sign a legal contract, binding them to ensure that your rhino is safe and looked after. In this way we can distribute more rhinos over Namibia and Africa, and the best is that anyone anywhere in the world can be part of this amazing project," says Muller.
In the meantime, however, the Rhino Momma Project is in desperate need of funds to supply feed to its crash of rhinos. In total, it needs roughly 1.7 tonnes of feed per day over the next eight-plus months, assuming good rains arrive from December onwards. Muller has been funding the project mostly from private funds and revenue generated by other businesses but, due to the economy in Namibia, this has become unsustainable. A donation campaign has been launched, however not nearly enough has been received yet to secure the project.
"We are so grateful for each and every donation, no matter how small," says Muller. "A big shout out and thank you to each and every one who has been so kind to donate and make a difference for the love of rhinos."
Want to help? Go to www.rhinomomma.com for more info, or support the Rhino Momma Project campaign on GivenGain. Rhino Momma Project is a registered Section 21 non-profit organisation in Namibia (reg no. 21/2018/2585).