Rhino, elephant poaching declines in Namibia

FILE PHOTO: Black rhinos, one of the world's endangered animals, are seen at a farm outside Klerksdorp, South Africa, February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

WINDHOEK (Reuters) - Namibia recorded fewer cases of rhino and elephant poaching this year compared to recent years, the southern African nation’s minister of environment and tourism said on Monday.

Namibia has one of the largest black rhino populations in the world; but as in neighboring South Africa, it is under threat from the lucrative market in rhino horn, especially in Asia.

So far this year, 27 rhinos were poached compared to 60 last year and 95 in 2015, environment and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta told reporters. Twenty elephants have been poached since January compared to 101 in 2016 and 49 a year before.

“More resources have been allocated to fight poaching, more government agencies, non-governmental organizations, private sector, international development partners, communities and the general public have come on board to support our efforts to stop poaching,” Shifeta said.

The police have so far arrested 75 people this year with ties mainly to Asian criminal syndicates for wildlife crime related to illegal hunting and possession of either rhino horns or elephant tusks.

A total of 30 rhino horns, 103 elephant tusks and 69 pieces of elephant tusk have also been recovered by ministry officials working together with the Namibian Police and Namibian Defence Force.

Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa