Poaching of rhinos and elephants has risen sharply in Namibia, with 121 elephants killed in the past two and a half years, compared to just two between 2005 and 2011. Poaching continues in South Africa with more than 300 rhinos killed this year.
Namibia’s environment ministry said that while no rhinos were poached between 2005 and 2010, 11 were killed since then, increasing from one in 2011 to four this year.
Namibia’s Deputy Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta told AFP that the government was concerned about the growing problem and that Namibia’s law enforcement agencies are working to solve the problem as the country doesn’t want the numbers to escalate further.
“There is a high probability that attention will shift to Namibia as we have recently experienced,” Shifeta said.
Most poaching occurs in Namibia’s protected areas such as the Bwabwata National Park in the northeast, where 13 elephants were killed in 2012.
“The immediate requirement is to control the emerging commercial ivory poaching in the northeast part of the country and to prevent the westwards spread of rhino and elephant poaching into the Etosha National Park and beyond,” Shifeta said.
Namibia has 79 conservation areas covering more than 100 000 square km and inhabited by some 300 000 people, according to AFP. Some poacher have been arrested – in March two Asians were found in possession of rhino horn worth $230 000.
Meanwhile, poaching in neighbouring South Africa continues unabated, with more than 310 rhinos killed by poachers this year according to the Department of Environmental Affairs. A record 1 004 rhinos were slaughtered last year, which will lead to the extinction of the rhino in South Africa by mid-century if the killing continues.
Most poaching occurs in the Kruger National Park, which borders Mozambique, from which a significant number of poachers come. South Africa and Mozambique recently signed an agreement to combat poaching – the memorandum of understanding calls for increased penalties for being caught with illegal rhino horn.
South Africa is home to around 80% of the world’s rhinos. Private Rhino Owners Association chairman Pelham Jones said that there are some 18 000 rhinos in South Africa, with about 5 000 privately owned and around 100 killed by hunters every year. Between 2008 and 2013, private owners lost 717 rhinos, according to Jones.
Elsewhere on the continent, poaching is also rife. The Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute reported that as many as 30 elephants are being poached every day and Kenya has reported 19 rhinos poached this year, which is the highest figure the country has recorded so far.