KHORIXAS – Rhino horns confiscated from poachers are worth millions and it will be good if Namibia works with other SADC countries having huge stockpiles of horns to persuade CITES to grant them the right to sell this stock, says the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism (MET) Bernadette Jagger.
“I support those saying these horns must not be burned. We have not burned ours as of yet and argue that burning horns is like burning a bank note,” Jagger told about 200 delegates that attended the celebration of World Rhino Day at Khorixas. Jagger said there was no way Namibia could seize huge amounts of rhino horns and proceed to set them alight.
Delegates were informed the Black Rhino once occurred throughout most of Southern Africa however, their numbers have decreased drastically over the past decades and the Black Rhino is currently classified as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species and is listed as an Appendix I CITES species, due to the escalating threat against rhinos worldwide and potential of rapid catastrophic declines of the species as a result of poaching.
In the same vein, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has recognised the need and importance of improving national coordination and maximising the impact of conservation programs in the country.
Jagger said Namibia has a rhino conservation programme that contributes significantly to the achievement of Vision 2030 for Black Rhino in the country, with its potential to facilitate the re-establishment of the desert adapted black rhino in viable, healthy breeding populations throughout its former range.
“We have so far seen good results in the conservation of our rhinos. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism continue to work with the Namibian police force and other agencies in combating illegal hunting of rhinos and illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products,” Jagger said.
Illegal hunting of rhinos and trade in wildlife products in the country is a syndicate-based activity and it involves foreigners who are well linked to middlemen in the country, who in turn use local communities as poachers as they have good knowledge of the areas, Jagger said at the event.
“As in any criminal setup, it is difficult to pin point those involved until syndicates are well understood and their modus operandi exposed. We remain committed and we will ensure that these criminals are caught, but most importantly ensure that wildlife crime is prevented,” said Jagger.
In fighting poaching of our rhinos, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism continue to increase their presence on the ground and work closely with the Namibian Police Force and the Namibian Defence Force, according to the deputy minister of tourism and environment.
Jagger said that her ministry will continue to ensure that investigations and intelligence operations are comprehensive, in that they capitalise on the full range of techniques and supporting technology available, are systematic in their approach to collecting, organising and managing information, and are integrated with other aspects of site-based wildlife enforcement operations. Attendees were told that communities have a role to play, through their local leadership such as traditional authorities and conservancies, in stopping poaching and combating wildlife crime.
Khorixas mayor Elizabeth Geises said rhino poaching has escalated in recent years and is being driven by demand for rhino horns in Asian countries, particularly Vietnam. Geises said that in celebrating World Rhino Day, Namibians must be mindful of many contributions of the species to our economy, tourism and the livelihood of ordinary Namibians.
“Let us be mindful to the importance of protecting this endangered species. Let us be mindful of our privilege to host this beautiful creature in the land of the braves because many in the world do not have that opportunity and may not in their life have an opportunity to gaze a rhino with their naked eyes,” Geises advised.
New Era Reporter
2018-09-26 09:16:09 2 months ago