from ALFRED SHILONGO in Windhoek, Namibia
WINDHOEK, (CAJ News) – AFTER raising in excess of £11 000 to save the endangered rhino in Namibia over the past month, the focus now shifts to the equally threatened animal in neighbouring South Africa.
Save the Rhino Trust (SRT), the foremost organisation involved in shielding one of the Big Four from extinction, disclosed the amount at the beginning of the week.
This came a month after the trust appealed for funds in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) scourge indirectly worsening the plight of the animals.
“We will be sending out funds to SRT in Namibia very soon,” the organisation stated in a note to CAJ News.
The Southern African country has in recent months seen its rhino population under threat from poachers and the decline in the tourism industry as a result of the COVID-19.
The tourism sector contributes significantly to the upkeep of personnel involved in conserving the animals.
A shutdown emanating from the pandemic resulted in a huge loss of income for both rhino conservation programmes and local communities.
Namibia has confirmed 25 cases of the virus as of June 3. It has not suffered any casualties.
Following the funding secured to counter this threat in Namibia, SRT disclosed that in the current month, the #RhinoCovid19Crisis appeal is raising awareness and support for Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) in South Africa.
“This month we are focusing on South Africa.”
Located in the small town in northern KwaZulu-Natal Province, HiPhas been on lockdown since the end of March when the government of President Cyril Ramaphosa announced restrictions to curb the most prevalent cases of COVID-19 in Africa.
South Africa’s cases have spiked to 34 357 and 705 deaths at the time of publication.
SRT explained the indirect impact the lockdown has had on the HiP.
“There has been no tourism for more than two months and a huge source of income has been lost. Income that would have helped rangers protect rhinos. No one knows when the park will have visitors again,” the conservancy organisation lamented.
Rhinos are poached mainly for their horns, to address the demand for the product in Asian nations, mostly China.
The horn is predominantly used in medicine but is increasingly becoming a symbol of wealth.
South Africa has the world’s largest population of rhinos (80 percent of the global numbers).
Unfortunately, it is not only among the countries worst hit by the COVID-19 scourge in Africa but also sits on the list of countries most affected by rhino poaching.
However, according to the government, the incidents of poaching are declining.
The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, there were 594 poaching incidents in 2019. This was 175 lower than the previous year.
“This encouraging news is a result of combined efforts of government, private, community and non-governmental organisation partners,” the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) stated.
– CAJ News