At least 25 rhinos have been killed by poachers in Namibia since the beginning of this year, a senior government has revealed.
In his first ivory poaching update of 2018, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism Romeo Muyunda said 16 elephants have been killed by poachers in game reserves across the country since January.
Although this year’s rhino poaching death toll represents a notable dropped when compared to 95 at the peak of the problem in 2015, Muyunda said Namibia’s rhino population remains under threat.
Rhinos along the Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom photo/Brandon Jones
“For as long as rhino horns and elephant tusks have a market, the rhinos are endangered. We should continuously sharpen our strategies and try to anticipate the next moves of the poaching syndicates if we are to prevent poaching,” he said.
The government believes the slight drop experienced in rhino poaching rates between 2016 and 2018 is due to the success of its own whistle-blower scheme which pays informants for information leading to the arrest of suspected poachers.
Introduced late in 2015, the whistle-blower scheme pays N$60 000 (US$ 6 000) per informer, but only after the arrest of the suspect. The scheme is limited to rhino and elephant poaching.
Although the incentive or reward was introduced in 2015, Muyunda could however not avail figures the ministry has paid out so far. Asked how the ministry verifies that the information given is correct before payment is made, he said every case is followed up based on available strategies. Hence, he clarified that the N$60 000 will only be paid when a successful arrest has been made based on the information provided.
Further, he added it should also be noted that their strategies prioritises the safety of the informers, as they remain anonymous.
Regarding the kind of wildlife species that are paid for by the ministry, he said the N$60 000 is only applicable for rhinos and elephants poached.
However, he was quick to say there are other payment provisions made for other species like Pangolins, crocodiles and buffaloes depending of the value of those animals. A source indicated informers get at least N$10 000 for information leading to an arrest on buffaloes hunted illegally.He advised the public who might have any information of other wildlife species that have been poached to contact the Environment Ministry to determine the incentives to be paid based on their value as they differ.
Over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of rhinos that have fallen at the hands of poachers, who sell their prized horns to Asia where the horns are apparently used as an ingredient in medicine.
Author: Oscar Nkala