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IRDNC field officer Filemon Nuab (Damara name Kho-Khoi) was born in Sesfontein in 1959 and grew up in Kamanjab where he attended school.


In 1980 he started working with Philip Viljoen doing elephant monitoring and then joined Garth Owen-Smith in 1981 and together with him got involved in rhino research and monitoring in the Wereldsend area.  Together with Garth, he was an active participant in the fight against poachers, of whom many were caught and handed over to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) for prosecution. In 1983 he joined MET and monitored rhinos at Ugabmund. In 1987 Filemon joined Blythe Loutit of Save the Rhino Trust.  In 2002 he returned to Garth Owen-Smith who was then co-director of IRDNC (Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation) and is still currently in their employ as a field officer.  His work involves training conservancy game guards, many of whom are too young to have been involved in stopping the serious commercial poaching of rhino, elephant and other wildlife in the 1970s and early 1980s. Thus it is important that people from the older generation train the conservancies’ young staff.  Filemon is currently involved in the monitoring of rhino after their recent translocation into conservancies.

Although Filemon has also been involved with elephant and lion monitoring as well as anti-poaching work, he has dedicated most of his adult life to Namibia’s endangered black rhino.  Through years of field work he knows these animals like the back of his hand:  their behavior patterns, preferred food and can even tell the sex of the rhinos from their tracks or the state of their health from the droppings.  He can read every spoor, chip on a rock or snapped twig like a story book.

Filemon’s passion for black rhino is especially contagious when joining him on foot in search of these behemoths. He has lived with them in the bush and acquired an intimate knowledge of their habits and quirks. Safety, of course, is a priority and never compromised.  Joining Filemon and the rhino on foot is an adventure few KCS guests would want to miss.

Although Filemon is based at Wereldsend, more often than not he is the veld.  “When I die”, he says “I want to be remembered as the rhino man”.  And that, we are sure, he will.


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