Windhoek — Ever since Namibia experienced its worse year of poaching in 2015 when 97 rhinos were poached, the country has lost an average 50 rhinos annually to poaching.
This was revealed by Environment and Tourism Deputy Minister, Bernadette Jagger, during the 13th International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) African Rhino Specialist Group yesterday, where about 45 delegates from African countries attended at Gross Barmen. Jagger said unprecedented levels of rhino poaching across Africa are being experienced, which threatens the existence of rhinos in the wild.
Therefore, the mission of the Africa Rhino Specialist Group is to promote the development and long-term maintenance of viable population of the various sub-species of African rhinos in the wild, said Jagger.
"This must be our goal as rhino conservationists to continue to grow rhino populations in the wild. This cannot be achieved if we work in isolation. We need to work together across borders, institutions and organisations," she urged. Equally, she said through collaboration, they can achieve a united front against the onslaught of wildlife crime to conserve these majestic creatures for future generations.
"As a country, we are hard at work and we are ready to go in the bush. You can't be office-bound. You can't be in air conditioned offices if you want these species conserved. I don't want my great-grandchildren to go to Malawi or Botswana to go see a black rhino. They must see it here in their motherland," she remarked.
She noted that wildlife trafficking has become a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise that has expanded to more than just a conservation concern.
Further, Jagger said the increasing involvement of criminal syndicates in poaching and wildlife trafficking promotes corruption, threatens species, strengthens illicit trade routes, destabilises economies and communities that depend on wildlife for their livelihoods.
This situation, she says, demands everyone's full attention and collective efforts to develop new strategies and implement current strategies and measures to run the tide.
She revealed that despite the onslaught of poaching, the white and black rhino population of Namibia has preserved and continues to grow.
She said the national black rhino population currently exceeds 2 000 species, and the white population currently stands at 1 000 animals.
This, she added, is in line with the vision of the rhino strategies that rhinos are re-established in viable, healthy breeding population throughout its former range, and sustainably utilised.
She outlined that the reduction in poaching from 2015 can mainly be attributed to the combined security efforts of the Namibian police and defence forces, private rhino owners and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism personnel. In addition, Jagger maintained the Namibian government and rhino owners continuously have to innovate and collaborate to keep poaching levels down.
Further, she encouraged delegates to work together and find lasting solutions to the crisis of poaching in Africa.
"When we go back, we must go and implement the recommendations from the meeting so that when you come back next year, you will see if they worked or not," she