Saturday, January 24, 2015

Namibia Begins Moving Rhinos to Combat Surging Threat of Poaching

A black rhinoceros mother and calf in Etosha National Park

Africa, with its ongoing and ever-rising poaching epidemic claiming countless lives of elephants and rhinos, has been struggling to carry out measurements to prevent further losses of these majestic endangered animals. One of the methods implemented is relocating rhinos from poaching hot spots to undisclosed locations. This method has recently been started by Namibia which is home to about 1,750 black rhinos, out of the global population of 4,800 animals, making it home to the world's largest populations of black rhinos in Africa. These rhinos are being relocated to privately-owned ranches around the country as it battles to protect the animals from poachers who want to satisfy the rising demand in rhino horns used in traditional Asian medicine. Namibia lost 23 rhinos last year in the Kunene Region and Etosha National Park, a famed tourist attraction. That same year, 76 elephants fell victim to poachers. According to Pohamba Shifeta, Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, part of this safety measurement is considering efforts by farmers based on area security, grazing, and other causes before carrying out a relocation. He further added that dehorning rhinos is also being carried on and a projected anti-poaching unit comprised of 400 members will be ready once it ensures financing from the government of Namibia. In addition, a plan to use aerial drones to improvise surveillance in badly policed and isolated parks will be carried out once legal issues have been settled. Namibia's neighbor, South Africa, indicated that a record 1,215 rhinos were ruthlessly massacred by poachers last year.
A pair of black rhinos in South Africa
Africa has been struggling to combat the ongoing threat of poaching which is decimating its elephant and rhino populations at cataclysmic levels. One of the methods being implemented is transferring rhinos from areas labeled as hot spots for poaching to undisclosed areas in order to protect them from poachers. Namibia is one of the most recent countries that has begun relocating its rhinos to such areas. Earlier, South Africa had been engaged in transferring its rhinos from places like Kruger National Park to hidden areas. Just recently, the country has relocated 100 rhinos. But relocating animals and directly poachers are not the only ways of ensuring the survival of elephants and rhinos. It is also essential to establish and conduct conservation programs to guarantee that local people receive benefits from wildlife, increase law enforcement efforts, and that governments should take action at an international level. Furthermore, it is also crucial to work to reduce the demand for rhino horns and elephant ivory through change in behavior and awareness campaigns. People around the world, especially in Africa and Asia, need to wake up and understand that poaching of elephants and rhinos can seriously impact the socio-economic development of each other's countries. For example, African national parks which contain elephants and rhinos are major tourist attractions and the flow of tourists contribute significantly to the countries' economies and socio-economic developments. When poachers slaughter these animals at cataclysmic levels, it would greatly affect the national parks' status as tourist attractions and the decline in tourism would have a tremendous impact on the economies and socio-economic developments of countries that contain such parks. Mozambique is infamous for having majority of rhino poachers who are known to cross the border into South Africa to conduct their illegal activities. Pressure is especially needed on this country to take necessary steps to steer people living in poverty away from making a living by poaching or other illegal means and encourage them to make a living through honest means. Furthermore, governments in Asia, especially in China and Vietnam, need to encourage their people to refrain from purchasing rhino horns and elephant ivory. This means addressing to the public that there is no scientific proof whatsoever that rhino horns and products made from other endangered species can cure a wide-range of illnesses, including cancer. In addition, governments of China, Vietnam, and other countries should permanently shut down factories manufacturing such wildlife products, along with stores and pharmacies selling the merchandise and the so-called "medicine". But most of all, governments around the world must take essential steps to bring down powerful global criminal syndicates that are conducting and overseeing illegal poaching of rhinos and elephants. These organizations are known to use the money made through manufacturing, distributing, and purchasing of rhino horns, elephant tusks, and other endangered wildlife products to finance other illicit activities like arms trafficking, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and terrorism.

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