While Africa is seeing a drop in the rate of rhinoceros poaching, Namibian wildlife authorities say they are seeing a surge in rhino killings in the southern African nation. Conservationists say poachers seeking rhino horns for Asian markets are targeting Namibia's commercial farms.
Save the Rhino Trust CEO Simson Uri Khob said there are reports that syndicates of rhino poachers from South Africa are operating in Namibia. He said poaching cases are rising, especially in Etosha National Park and commercial farms.
"It's a problem," Khob said. "The only thing I can say is we have to take more hands with the communities [that are] in the areas and do more awareness."
Salmon Vermaak, who heads an anti-poaching group called Namibia Wildlife Protection, said the group has received two rhino poaching reports in the last four months, the first such cases since the organization began operating in the area eight years ago.
"We pick up tracks of prospective poachers on the farms we look after," Vermaak said. "The figures from the Ministry of Forestry show what the increases are. There are definitely syndicates operating between here and South Africa."
Vermaak said his group isn't involved with intelligence or the infiltration of the syndicates, but is primarily involved with the protection of the country's rhinos.
Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Forestry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said recent statistics show a surge in poaching, although the latest figures are still being verified. So far this year, Namibia has reported 48 poached rhinos compared to 43 in 2021 and 40 in 2020.
Muyunda also welcomed the recent conviction of preacher Jackson Babi - who is also described as a "self-proclaimed prophet" in documents from the Gobabis Magistrate Court.
"We want to believe that this will deter others that are involved in poaching of rhinos or any other wildlife crime and also those who want to get involved in this illicit activity," Myunda said.
Namibia is home to the largest black rhino population in the world.