Namibia: 11 Rhinos Poached in Two Weeks

The ministry of environment has recorded an alarming number of rhino carcasses in Etosha National Park from the beginning of this month. Eleven black rhinos have been poached in the last two weeks.

In total, 22 rhino carcasses were discovered since January. The ministry’s spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, told New Era that the number has raised a serious concern about the protection of these endangered animals.

“This is too much to discover in a very short period and it is a serious concern,” he said. According to the statement from the ministry, an investigation indicates that the carcasses range between three weeks and older. “This is regrettable and a strong indication that the fight against poaching is not over,” the statement reads.

Namibia is home to the second-largest white rhino population in the world after South Africa and also accounts for a third of the world’s remaining black rhinos.

It is also home to the only free-roaming black rhinos left in the world, growing in number after nearly becoming extinct some years ago from poaching and drought.

Statistics from the Save the Rhino Trust show that there are over 200 free-roaming black rhinos in Namibia, mainly in the northeast.

For the past few years, the country recorded a significant decline in rhino poaching.

In 2020, the ministry indicated that rhino poaching fell 63% year on year in the country.

In 2018, 81 rhinos were killed, before a drop to 54 in 2019, 32 in 2020, and 40 last year.

In a telephonic interview with New Era, Namibian Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga, who sounded alarmed said, “I am also caught by surprise that after we did a good job by reducing the poaching activities in the country and set up a robust prevention intervention, we have recorded 11 rhino carcasses in Etosha only, in a short time. It’s shocking.”

Ndeitunga suspects that the criminal syndicate might have regrouped, re-strategised and saw the loopholes. “The market has also probably found another way to acquire rhino horns and other proceeds,” so he suspects.

Asked how the force will intervene to curb the rising number of rhino poaching, Ndeitunga said, “We have to go back to square one and come up with a strategy to prevent further poaching in Etosha.”

The inspector general further called on the vigilance of officers deployed at the national parks. “All the officers from the police force, NDF, and the ministry of the environment should pull up their socks and elevate their level of vigilance,” he commanded.

The ministry also ensured the public that in collaboration with the police and the defence force and relevant partners, they will intensify wildlife protection and law enforcement interventions including intensifying patrols, security, and intelligence gathering in the Etosha National Park which is the country’s flagship park.

No arrests have been made thus far and investigations continue. Members of the public who may have information related to this or any poaching or wildlife crime incident are urged to contact either the police or officials of the ministry.

Namibia has increased fines for poaching to N$25 million from N$200 000 and prison sentences have risen to 25 years from 20.

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