Rhino poaching fell 63% year-on-year in Namibia due to intensified intelligence operations and tougher sentences and fines for poachers.
Elephant poaching also decreased, with two incidents reported as of August 2020 compared with 13 in 2019, the environment ministry said.
Namibia is home to the second-largest white rhino population in the world after South Africa, according to nonprofit Save the Rhino. Namibia also holds one-third of the world’s remaining black rhinos.
Rhino poaching has plagued Southern Africa for decades, especially in neighboring South Africa and Botswana, leading to anti-poaching programs such as dehorning and strict policing.
Namibia has increased fines for poaching to 25,000,000 Namibian dollars ($1.43 million) from 200,000, and prison sentences have risen to 25 years from 20.
Rhinos are hunted and killed for their horns to feed rising demand, mostly in Asia, where affluent classes regard them as a status symbol. They also are used in traditional Chinese medicine, despite having no medicinal value.
Romeo Muyanda, spokesman for Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, said rhino poaching had decreased from 46 incidents in 2019 to 17 as of early August 2020.
Intensified ground and aerial patrols were the main reason. Collaboration with the public and stiffer sentences for convicted poachers also helped bring about the decline.
“Another factor is the excellent collaboration with law enforcement agencies, such as the Namibian Police, the Namibian Defence Force and the Namibia Central Intelligence,” Muyanda said.
The ban on international travel imposed in March 2020 in response to COVID-19 was not a big factor in the poaching decline.
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