According to the latest poaching statistics by Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), the country has lost 19 rhinos and seven elephants to illegal poaching since the beginning of the year.

In May, the MET recorded 18 incidents in which eight animals were killed. Most poaching incidents took place on private and custodian farms. Six poaching incidents were recorded in Etosha National Park and Waterberg Plateau Park.

In 2018, 57 rhinos and 26 elephants were poached in Namibia and 120 suspected poachers were arrested.

However, despite this year’s numbers so far, Save the Rhino International says the number of overall poaching incidents by the end of the year will be the lowest since 2014. This is a good sign and a massive improvement since the high in 2015 when 97 rhinos were poached.

Since 2015, the numbers have gone down with 61 in 2016, 44 in 2017 and 57 in 2018.

“We believe the improvement is due to a number of proactive initiatives by Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism, working in close co-operation with local NGOs like Save the Rhino Trust, community conservancies, private custodians, and the Namibian Police’s Protected Resource Department,” says Save the Rhino International CEO, Cathy Dean.

Such initiatives include: annual dehorning operations to make the risk-reward equation less attractive to poachers; informer networks and engagement with traditional authorities; the introduction of canine units; sensitisation of the judiciary, leading to tougher deterrent sentences being imposed on convicted rhino poachers and horn traffickers, and strong leadership from Minister Pohamba Shifeta.