Written by: Kimberly White
Rhino poaching has decreased significantly in South Africa and Namibia.
Rhino poaching in South Africa fell by 53 percent in the first six months of this year. During the first half of the year, 166 rhinos were killed across the country, compared to 316 rhinos killed in the first six months of 2019.
South Africa’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries has stated that the decline can be attributed to various strategies and initiatives to combat rhino poaching over the past decade as well as the disruption of the supply chain from the COVID-19 lockdown and travel restrictions.
“After a decade of implementing various strategies, and campaigning against ever increasing rhino poaching by local poachers recruited and managed by crime syndicates, efforts are paying off,” said Barbara Creecy, Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries. “We have been able to arrest the escalation of rhino losses.”
“The diligence of SARS customs officials and members of the Green Scorpions that resulted in the consignments being uncovered, and the resulting arrest by the Hawks of a shipping agent, is a prime example of the excellent relationship and teamwork between departments and entities to stamp out the illicit trade in rhino horn, and other wildlife products,” continued Creecy.
Home to nearly 80 percent of the world’s rhinos, South Africa has been one of the countries hardest hit by poachers. From 1990 through 2007, South Africa lost an average of 13 rhinos annually. Tragically, poaching hit an all-time high in 2014 when 1,215 rhinos were killed. However, with increased conservation efforts and dedicated rangers, rhino poaching has been declining in the country for the past five years.
“Our rangers have remained at the forefront of the battle against poaching, despite the National Lockdown, contributing to the decrease in poaching. In this time, rangers have had to face not only the threats posed by poachers, but they, and their families, have also had to deal with the danger of contracting Covid-19,” said Creecy. “The dedication of essential staff, particularly our rangers, during this time is to be commended. Your hard work, and the support of your families, has not gone unnoticed.”
Rhino poaching has also fallen significantly in Namibia. Rhino poaching has declined 63 percent year-on-year, according to Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
The Ministry has stated that increased intelligence operations and law enforcement collaborations, as well as more severe penalties and sentencing, have led to the decline in poaching. According to a report from Reuters, the country increased the fines for poaching to $1.4 million and increased prison sentences from 20 years to 25 years.
Namibia has reported that 17 rhinos have been killed so far this year compared to 46 reported rhino poaching incidents last year.