Rhino poaching continues unabated

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WINDHOEK – Rhinos continue to die at the hands of suspected poachers in the country’s national parks, especially in Etosha.

The Director of Regional Services and Parks Management, Colgar Sikopo, yesterday confirmed the crisis.
He said some of the carcasses are old, while some have horns.

“We have a team busy investigating. We also suspect that some could have died of natural causes. We are going to examine each and every carcass to determine the root causes of their deaths,” said Sikopo.

Over the years, the ministry has been battling to bring the level at which the country’s rhino are being killed under control.

The poaching of wildlife over the years prompted Cabinet last year to approve a request by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to allow the security forces to be involved in the fight against poaching and other crimes threatening the country’s wildlife. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Simeon Negumbo, last week confirmed to New Era Cabinet’s approval, saying that action has been implemented.

However, when asked why illegal poaching of endangered species still continues, he was quick to say: “It has been implemented but the security forces that are there are not sufficient in numbers.”

However, he said the ministry is working hard on increasing the armed forces’ presence in national parks where recent cases of rhino and elephant poaching have been reported.

From February to April 7 this year, a total of seven carcasses of rhino were discovered in the Etosha National Park alone. Of the seven six were bulls and one a cow.

The cases bring to 11 the number of poached rhinos in the Etosha National Park since October last year.
Meanwhile, in the Kunene Region five poached rhino carcasses were discovered from February to date.

The ministry also expressed concern over the recent cases of elephant poaching particularly in the north-east of the country, where nine elephants were poached in the Zambezi, while the Kavango reported two elephants.
Negumbo said the ministry together with the police are investigating all the reported new cases of rhino and elephant poaching.

He called on the public to report any suspected poaching to the ministry or the nearest police station.
Namibia’s elephant population is currently over 20 000. About 78 elephants were poached in 2012, while 38 suffered the same fate last year. More than 10 elephants and 10 rhinos have already been poached so far this year.

Negumbo warned those involved in poaching to refrain from doing so with immediate effect or risk being caught and face the full wrath of the law.

Poaching on the African continent continues to be the leading cause of death of many wildlife. Last year, British soldiers were deployed to Kenya to join the fight to stop ivory poaching by terrorists who are allegedly funding their military operations by selling elephant tusks and rhino horns on the £12billion-a-year ivory black market.

On a global scale, in the past year 60 wardens and 38 000 elephants have been killed by illegal poachers.

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