#ShockWildlifeTruths: Namibia has lost 37 rhinos to poachers this year

Cape Town - Save the Rhino Trust Namibia called for a demonstration this week outside a court in Omararu against the release on bail of two suspected rhino-horn smugglers as the authorities confirmed 37 rhinos had been lost to poachers in Namibia this year, the group said on Facebook.

"We support Minister of Environment & Tourism Namibia, Pohamba Shifeta, who has implored the investigating teams and prosecutors to keep suspected poachers or smugglers behind 'lock and key' and to oppose bail," Save the Rhino Trust Namibia said.

Quoting the minister, the New Era newspaper reported earlier this month that 28 of the rhinos killed since January were from in the 22,000 kilometre-squared Etosha National Park. Eight were from the Kunene region and one was killed on a private farm.

In 2015, Namibia lost 125 rhinos to poachers, the paper said.

The figure is about one-tenth of the number of rhinos lost to poachers in South Africa last year, where nearly 1,200 were killed. Zimbabwe lost 50 rhinos.

Rhinos are targeted for their horn, which is powdered down and used in traditional Asian medicine.

It was not immediately clear if the rhinos lost to poachers in Namibia were black or white. Namibia has both: in fact, its black rhino population is one of the largest in the world.

White rhinos were reportedly extinct for a time in Etosha. They were reintroduced from the Kruger National Park in 1995.

Monday's demonstration came after the release on bail of two well-known local Namibian businessmen. They were caught with four rhino horns in an undercover operation in June, according to local press reports.

The horns were so fresh they still had blood on them, it was reported. The men were released on bail of N$55 000 (just over R55 800) each.

In June the Namibian government called for bids from trophy hunters to kill three black rhino.

Namibia has sold licenses to kill individual rhino every year since 2012. 

The authorities say the money goes towards conservation and anti-poaching work.

READ: #ShockWildlifeTruths: 2015 the worst year in decades for rhino poaching

Here's how you can make a difference:

Visit the national parks and nature reserves of Southern Africa. Or stay at lodges that actively contribute to rhino conservation. Organisations like Wilderness Safaris and Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia have partnered with local communities to ensure rhinos are conserved.

Your tourism money is essential for contributing to the conservation of wilderness and wildlife, and helps creates jobs in surrounding communities who otherwise see no benefits from wildlife. 

Support organisations like WildAid, who are working to reduce consumer demand in Asia.

Speak up among your friends and family. Real transformation starts with awareness, and individual change.

What to read next on Traveller24

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#ShockWildlifeTruths: SA border poaching breach aids enrichment of North Korea's leadership

Great Plain Conservation calls for public aid to relocate rhinos

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