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Namibia Steps Up Anti-Poaching Efforts to Save Threatened Rhino Species

Namibia strengthened its anti-poaching drive by launching two rhino preservation plans and a horse patrol unit at an event held at the country’s Etosha National Park on Friday.

Speaking at the commemoration of World Rhino Day which falls on Sept. 22 every year, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said the day is dedicated to raising awareness of the threats facing the rhino population and how the world can come together to protect these endangered species.

The event was attended by officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT), the Namibia Defense Force, and the Namibia Police Force, representatives from Save the Rhino Trust, and the World Wildlife Fund, as well as representatives from conservancies.

“Illegal hunting for rhino horn is primarily responsible for the crash in the black rhino population in Africa from perhaps 100,000 in the 1960s to a low of about 2,410 in 1995. Through strict conservation programs, the numbers in Africa have since increased, reaching 5,081 by the end of 2012,” Shifeta said.

According to the minister, the rhino preservation plans will serve as a tool to help conserve and sustainably manage a growing free-ranging population of both black and white rhinos in Namibia.

Shifeta said the use of horses in the conservation and protection of rhinos will help with mounted patrols and cover more distances.

“Thirteen horses have been purchased by the MEFT with funding support from the Game Product Trust Fund. Eight horses will have their duty station in Etosha National Park, while five will be stationed in Waterberg Plateau Park,” he added.

However, Shifeta said Namibia is still experiencing illegal rhino hunting and the illegal trade in rhino horns. This year, 39 rhinos were poached in Namibia, compared to 92 in 2022, 50 in 2021, 47 in 2020 and 61 in 2019.