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Namibia heightens poaching alert after 28 rhinos killed

File photo of a rhino in Shamwari

MICHELE SPATARI-AFP


Namibian authorities stepped up an anti-poaching alert Monday after announcing that 28 rhinos had been killed by poachers since the start of the year, including 19 at the country's largest animal reserve.

The country's Minister for Environmental Affairs said an "urgent high-level meeting" with security officials had been called to plan measures to combat the "barbaric" poaching wave.

The ministry also appealed for public help "in this difficult fight" against a phenomenon surging again across southern Africa. No arrests have been made so far, the ministry added.

The new wave of killings has particularly hard hit Namibia's Etosha Park.

Of the 19 rhinos slaughtered in the park, 10 were found during a campaign in March to dehorn rhinos to reduce the risk of them becoming poaching targets, the ministry said.

The horns are used in traditional medicine in Asian markets after the animal is killed.

"This is our flagship park and has a high concentration of rhino conservation and other high-value species making it a major attraction of tourists," the ministry said in a statement.

Authorities said 87 rhinos were killed across Namibia in 2022, up from 45 the previous year.

Figures for 2023 have not yet been revealed.

In South Africa, which has the highest population of rhinos, nearly 500 were killed by poachers last year, up 11% from 2022.

There were 23,300 rhinos in Africa at the end of 2022, with about 15,000 in South Africa.