Black Rhino Population Increasing in Namibia

Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) is set to increase the number of endangered black rhino in the country to 1 500 beasts by the end of 2011.

In 2002, the black rhino population was estimated at 750 when Namibia’s rhino management plan was developed. Based on MET surveys conducted in 2009, Namibia’s black rhino population already exceeds 1 500.

This information is contained in a report of the MET tabled by its Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah in parliament on Tuesday. A comprehensive document on the status of Namibia’s rhino was developed in 2009.

‘This will guide the development of an updated rhino strategy,” the report states.

Etosha National Park’s rhino are considered a key population, according to the report. The report says most animals have been trans-located to private farms and conservancies, under the successful rhino custodianship programme.

Other rhino sub-populations are found in three other national protected areas and conservancies in the Western Kunene Region.

In relation to human wildlife conflict management and mitigation, the report says MET put in place measures in 2009.

A total of 50 elephant protection walls were constructed around water points in Erongo, Omusati and Kunene regions.

Chilli bombs were also used to scare elephants from crops in the Caprivi and northern regions.

The report says assistance was provided to communities to chase away elephants and other large herbivores in the Omusati, Oshikoto, Kavango, Caprivi, Erongo and Otjozondjupa regions.

Crocodile enclosures were erected in the Caprivi Region as well as a human wildlife self-reliance scheme set up under the National Policy on Human Wildlife Conflict Management, the report reads.

These mitigation measures follow livestock and crop losses and damage to infrastructure such as water installations. These are the main manifestations of human-wildlife conflict.

In 2009, seventeen lives were lost to elephants and crocodiles. Elephants killed two people in Kavango while one person was killed in Caprivi and one in the Kunene Region.

According to the report, nine people were killed in Kavango by crocodiles, two were killed in Omusati and one in Caprivi including one casualty in Kunene.

In terms of livestock losses, Kunene is the most affected region, as it is home to key predators including lion, cheetah and leopard, the report says.

It notes elephants are also a major problem in the region that recorded 18 incidents in which elephants damaged fences, windmills and water pipes.

While lion and crocodile were blamed for the high levels of losses in Kavango, other regions said to be seriously affected by human-wildlife conflict include Hardap, Karas and Otjozondjupa.