By Jana-Mari Smith
In December 2012 a cattle herdsman who had trekked his animals into one of the most remotest spots of Namibia made a shocking discovery – that of a slaughtered black rhino and her surviving calf. It was this discovery, and Zakarara Karutjaiva’s immediate reaction to report the discovery, that led to the quick arrest of the poacher and the retrieval of the rhino horns soon after. Zakarara was hailed a hero.
There was no doubt that many would have simply ignored the find, leaving the poaching incident unreported and, as such, the poacher free from justice.
But Zakarara did report the find and the police did manage to retrieve the horns and arrest the culprit. No wonder his life has changed since then.
In a positive twist, Zakarara has now been employed as a full time rhino tracker by the Save the Rhino Trust of Namibia. He forms part of the mounted patrol team which employs donkeys and camels to penetrate the remotest areas in the Kunene region, ensuring to the best of their ability that poachers are kept at bay.
Zakarara’s innate sense of justice and his sense of duty in protecting wildlife in the area were as good a curriculum vitae as any.
“We are hoping that Zakarara will show others within the Trust how important it is to be honest at all times and not to be afraid to take action and report things that are wrong.”