01 Feb 2017 11:10am
By Etuna Shikalepo
WINDHOEK, 01 FEB (NAMPA) Namibia has so far dehorned 451 black rhinos at a cost of over N.dollars 14.5 million in an effort to discourage poaching in the country.
Government has been dehorning rhinos since 2014.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) makes use of experts contracted to dehorn black rhinos in the countrys national game parks, including Etosha, Namib-Naukluft, Mamili, and the Waterberg Plateau.
Black rhinos are also kept on community conservancies across Namibia.
Environment Minister, Pohamba Shifeta said experts have been dehorning mostly black rhinos, which are the target of poachers.
Shifeta told Nampa recently that rhinos on private farms are also dehorned to avoid death when fighting.
The dehorning process is repeated after three years as the horns grow fast, he noted.
The minister, however, said Namibia needs more qualified veterinarians to carry out such operations.
We have a shortage of people specialised in veterinary of wild animals in the country, he said.
Horns legally removed and those confiscated from poachers are kept as Government resources, in the hope that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species will in future legalise the sale of rhino horns that were removed legally.
MET Public Relations Officer, Romeo Muyunda told Nampa on Tuesday that Government has accumulated horns weighing 932.05 kilogrammes from white and black rhinos since 2014.
The value of these products is estimated at N.dollars 74 564 000.
Muyunda said private farmers have to apply to MET to dehorn white rhinos on their farms but have to declare such horns as State property. According to legislation, all black rhinos belong to the State.
He explained that during dehorning, ministry officials, accompanied by law-enforcement officers, take DNA samples from the rhinos and the horns, which are marked for tracking.
Muyunda said officials monitor farmers custody of the animals regularly.
Zimbabwe and South Africa also have dehorning programmes.
According to the Save The Rhino (STR) Trust website, the population size is confidential.
It said Namibia holds about 28 per cent of Africas black rhinos and is the stronghold of the South Western subspecies (Diceros bicornis bicornis).
STR said rhino numbers are increasing steadily under a well-established and innovative conservation and management programme.
The future of the South Western black rhino will depend on Namibias ability to maintain adequate standards of protection (given the poaching crisis), management, monitoring and sustainable utilisation of rhinos, and to expand available areas of range to accommodate further population increase.