B2Gold (TSX: BTO) launched a campaign to help support the conservation and protection of critically endangered black rhinos.
In a press release, the Canadian miner said that the Namibian Rhino Gold Bar initiative will support community-based rangers and trackers who protect rhinos in an area of 25,000 square kilometres with no national park status in the southern African country.
Through the campaign, B2Gold plans to donate 1,000 ounces of gold valued at approximately $1.9 million from its Otjikoto Mine in north-central Namibia.
“B2Gold has produced 1,000 limited-edition Namibian Rhino Gold Bars in various sizes. To celebrate the launch of the campaign in North America, 400 one-ounce gold bars will go on sale on Kitco Metals’ retail website on July 31,” the media brief reads. “Each one-ounce bar is available for purchase at the spot price of gold plus a 15% conservation premium.”
The 15% premium will support rangers, trackers, and black rhino conservation and protection. It will be used to fund the future production of more gold bars, or gold medallions, the second limited edition of which will be distinctly different from the first mintage, so that this initiative remains self-sustaining.
Proceeds from the sale of the first 600 gold bars to Namibian and African purchasers have been managed and distributed by the Rhino Gold Bar Advisory Committee which includes representatives from B2Gold, Save the Rhino Trust Namibia, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation, the Namibia Chamber of Environment, and the Namibia Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism.
“Due to poaching, driven by the illegal rhino horn trade, over 1,000 wild rhinos are killed for their horns in Africa each year. The northwest of Namibia is home to the last and largest population of free-roaming black rhinos in the world, but with fewer than 5,630 black rhinos left in the wild, the need for rhino conservation and protection has never been so critical,” B2Gold reports. “At the current rate, it is predicted that black rhinos will be extinct within a decade.”
According to the company, the ripple effects of the covid-19 pandemic have further increased the risks that the animals face, particularly because job losses have led many people to move from urban to rural areas and poaching has increased.
At the same time, Save the Rhino Trust Namibia and Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation have had their budgets slashed as international donours have had to pass along cuts to their own budgets due to the pandemic.
Given this situation, B2Gold said that some funds have been allocated to help counteract the impact of the pandemic by providing salaries to keep rhino rangers and trackers in the field for the next 12 months; maintaining adequate patrol levels to diminish the threat of poaching and sustain population growth; raising awareness about the importance of black rhino conservation to reinforce community support; and upgrading communication systems to ensure the rapid response of rhino rangers and trackers during a crisis situation.