Windhoek — According to the latest statistics, Namibia's anti-poaching unit is proving a success with the country only having recorded three cases of rhino poaching this year.
Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta yesterday said the aim for this year is to reduce poaching cases by more than 50 percent.
"Even though rhino and elephant poaching seem to be decreasing, there is a need to work harder to ensure that the poaching figures are brought to zero. Let us rededicate ourselves to ensuring that fewer rhinos and elephants are poached this year," he said.
Namibia has one of the largest black rhino populations in the world; but as in neighbouring South Africa, it is under threat from the lucrative market for rhino horn, especially in Asia.
By October last year, 27 rhinos were poached compared to 60 in 2016 and 95 in 2015 - while 20 elephants were poached since January last year compared to 101 in 2016 and 49 a year before.
Shifeta says poaching is driven by international criminal syndicates and is a complex phenomenon.
In their effort to address this crisis, he said there is a need to recognize that the anti-poaching unit is not dealing with the normal subsistence poaching as it was in the past.
He explained that rhino and elephant have become commercialised and there are huge financial incentives for people to get involved and participate in this crime.
He commended the anti-poaching team under the leadership of retired Oshana regional police commander Ndahangwapo Kashihakumwa who was appointed last year as the head of the newly established unit.
Equally, he applauded private individuals and the private sector who have come on board and support government efforts to eliminate the poaching problem.
He encouraged all Namibians who value their wildlife and its protection to join hands with the ministry in this fight.
He also touched on the increasing incidences of human-wildlife conflict which he says has frustrated many people, in particular farmers, to the point where they have resorted to taking the law into their own hands.
He encouraged his staff members to be prompt in responding to issues of such conflicts.
He said delayed responses will trigger a bad reaction from the already frustrated farmers, some of whom hunt and kill predators that have caused havoc to their properties without consent from the ministry.