The Namibian Sun

Ellanie Smit,
September 21, 2018

See link
for photo.

While about 1200 rhinos in Namibia are now in private care, the country is
still experiencing high levels of poaching, with 29 rhinos poached this
year already.

This was announced during a national meeting on rhino security attended by
custodians of black rhinos and private owners of white rhinos.

Environment deputy minister Bernadette Jagger said in the past five days,
three suspects were arrested at Divundu in the Kavango East Region for the
illegal possession of three rhino horns.

One suspect was also arrested at Katima Mulilo for the illegal possession
of five pairs of elephant tusks.

?Unprecedented levels of elephant and rhino poaching across Africa are
being experienced and Namibia is no exception. This threatens these species
and the ecosystem they inhabit,? said Jagger.

She said wildlife trafficking has become a million-dollar criminal
enterprise that has expanded to more than just a conservation concern.

According to Jagger, the increasing involvement of organised crime in
poaching and wildlife trafficking promotes corruption, threatens peace,
strengthens illicit trade routes, destabilises economies and communities
that depend on wildlife for their livelihoods.

Elaborating on the National Rhino Custodian Programme that was established
in 1993, she said this has been Namibia’s greatest conservation success
ever and is largely due to private citizens working together with
government in an exemplary way.

The custodian programme now hosts 500 black rhinos in 28 sub-populations,
which occur from the Orange River to the Kunene Region.

?We are aware that custodians are concerned about the risk of poaching,
including the safety of themselves and their personnel and the lack of
mechanisms from the side of government to offer more assistance and create
greater incentives for keeping black rhinos,? Jagger said.

She explained that although all black rhinos remain state-owned, the
programme enables private persons with land to apply for custodianship.

She said strategic black rhino translocations have been carried out under
the programme since 1993.

This has not only expanded the rhino range but also established a viable
breeding population. It has also contributed to the stimulation of high
density populations in national parks, from which most of the animals have
been sourced for the programme.

Jagger said the number of black rhinos under custodianship has grown to
such an extent that the programme has become its own source of animals for
further translocation, and a few animals could even be translocated back to
national parks, as required.

According to her the southern white rhino is present in some of Namibia’s
national parks, while the private sector has also played a vital role in
re-establishing populations on free-hold land.

?White rhinos can be privately owned in Namibia, the ministry strictly
controls all imports, exports, internal movements and hunting of white
rhinos through CITES.?

The number of privately-owned white rhinos have increased steadily over the
past years to over 700 animals on 69 freehold properties by the end of
2017, mainly through the imports from South Africa.

?Poaching has severe economic implications through adverse impacts on
tourism, trophy hunting and the conservation of the species,? said Jagger.

She said short and long-term strategic measures in place to help combat
wildlife crime involve matters of human capacity, surveillance patrols and
detection, investigative and intelligence work, criminal investigations,
legal frameworks and prosecutions.

It also involves community care and engagement, monitoring and database
support, as well and proactive planning and adaptive management.