Elephant and rhino poaching reaches threatening heights

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Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 08:00
Last month, Cabinet discussed specific strategies in collaboration with law enforcement agencies to curb illegal hunting of Namibia’s elephant and rhino species.
With Namibia holding the largest population of black rhino in the world, a threatening trend has set the growth of its population aback. It has been confirmed by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) that poaching incidents in the Western, Central and Eastern parts of Africa are escalating at an enormous rate.
In Namibia, to be more specific, in the North-Eastern areas such as in the Bwabwata, Mudumu and Nkasa Rupara National Parks and in the Eastern flood plains of the Zambezi Region, illegal hunting of elephants is growing at a frightening rate.
Since 2012 until now, 126 ele-phants and 16 rhinos have been poached in Namibia. Fourteen rhino horns were also confiscated at the Hosea Kutaku International Airport from three Chinese Nationals. The origin of the rhino farms were and still is unknown.
MET is currently evaluating potential measures and gathering available resources to put a stop to this ever-increasing problem. However, it was noted that the most cases of poaching seems to be cross-border crimes involving foreign nationals. 
A budget for this initiative has not been set out yet. Additional funding will be needed for the creation of a dedicated Anti-Poaching Unit.
Meanwhile, the founder of Ele-phants Without Borders, Dr Mike Chase, has decided to do the greatest African elephant census in history. Chase speculates that there is an approximate 410 to 700 thousand elephants left in the whole of Africa while there used to be an estimated 27 million in the early 19th century.
Chase’s team consists of 18 aircrafts and 46 scientists in the elephant census project solely funded by the co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen. 
The team will also visit Namibia after surveying Ethiopia, and continue towards Botswana, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
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