Namibian authorities say the southern African country is seeing a jump in rhinoceros poaching, with 11 killings this month. The dead rhinos were discovered in Namibia’s Etosha National Park without their horns, which are worth tens of thousands of dollars in illegal Asian markets.
The CEO of Namibia’s Save the Rhino Trust, Simson Uri-Khob, said the discovery of 11 poached rhino carcasses cannot be regarded as an isolated incident.
He said there is a rising demand for rhino horn, which has translated into higher incidents of poaching in Namibia. He suspects organized criminals are behind the killings.
“It is difficult to point fingers on who it was, but I am sure it is organized crime syndicates and part of the community because they are the ones who know the area, they are the ones who guide poachers, from my experience,” Uri-Khob said.
Romeo Muyunda, public relations officer at the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Forestry, said action will be taken to protect the rhinos.
“The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, together with the Namibia Police Force, the NDF (Namibian Defense Force) and other partners will intensify our patrols, security and intelligence gathering, especially in the Etosha National Park,” Muyunda said.
He asked the public to help authorities with the investigation into the killings.
“To date, no arrests have been made in this incident where the carcasses were discovered. Investigations continue in this regard,” Muyunda said. “We call upon members of the public with information related to this incident and any other poaching activity or any other wildlife crime incident to come forth and report.”
A total of 22 rhinos have been killed by poachers in Namibia this year.
Namibia is home to 1,500 to 2,000 black rhinos — about one-third of the world’s black rhino population. The endangered species is targeted for its horn, which is used for ornaments and its alleged but unproven medicinal purposes in Asian countries.