Namibians should protect rhinos: Shifeta

22 Sep 2016 14:01pm
WINDHOEK, 22 SEP (NAMPA) – Namibians should refrain from any poaching activities and be vigilant in preserving the country’s precious wildlife in particular rhinos.
The Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta made the call ahead of global World Rhino Day celebrations slated for Thursday.
“Poaching has severe economic implications through adverse impacts on tourism, trophy hunting and the conservation of the species. Poachers are now being supplied by international criminal gangs with sophisticated equipment to track and kill rhinos,” he warned in a media statement issued on Tuesday.
Shifeta explained that poachers, in some instances, use a tranquilizer gun to bring the rhino down and hack of its horn, leaving the rhino to wake and bleed to death.
A situation analysis on poaching in the country point to the Etosha (northern Namibia) and Bwabwata (north-eastern) national parks, and the Palmwag (north-western) tourism concession area.
Namibia hosts the biggest population of black rhinos remaining in Africa, and is the stronghold of the south-western subspecies: Diceros bicornis bicornis. More than 91 per cent of the total population of this subspecies is found in the country and rhino numbers have been increasing steadily under the well-established and innovative conservation and management programme.
The strategy has six overall objectives of which five – range expansion; biological management; support and incentives; coordination and collaboration; and policy and legislative framework are largely being met.
However, the remaining objective, which is about protection and law enforcement, is at risk. In ensuring protection of rhinos, the ministry has developed a national strategy on wildlife protection and law enforcement in cooperation with the ministries of Safety and Security; Defence; Justice; Office of the Prosecutor General; and the National Central Intelligence Services. Furthermore, the ministry also acquired a helicopter for anti-poaching efforts.
One of the biggest challenges facing the ministry is the current legislation that deals with wildlife protection and law enforcement matters. However, the Nature Conservation Ordinance, 1975 is being reviewed and strengthened to a Protected Areas and Wildlife Management Bill.
“It is our hope that this review will be finalised before the end of this financial year. Fines and penalties for poaching and other related offences are being increased to enhance their deterrent effect,” he said.
Meanwhile, in celebrating the day, Save the Rhino Trust Namibia plans to inspire Namibians to take a stand in support of rhino conservation and against poaching.
The event aims to boost information-sharing and education, as well as building a sense of rhino custodianship nationwide.