By Felix Njini
A rhino was killed by poachers in Namibia’s vast Etosha National Park, the fourth to be hunted in the reserve, the country’s environment and tourism ministry said.
The rhino probably died last year, bringing the number of the animals slaughtered for their horns in the southwest African country in 2014 to 23.
“We have discovered at least one old carcass in the Etosha National Park believed to have been poached,” Romeo Muyunda, a spokesman for the ministry, said in an e-mailed reply to questions from the capital, Windhoek.
Poachers also killed 76 elephants in Namibia’s national parks and conservancies last year. The arid country has one of the largest populations of black rhinos, which are under threat from those who kill the animals and sell their horns, chiefly for use in traditional Asian medicines, according to the WWF.
Two other rhino carcasses were found in the park, belonging to animals that are believed to have died of natural causes.
About 1,750 black rhinos live in Namibia, out of a global population of 4,800, along with 469 white rhinos, according to Save The Rhino and WWF.
The ministry is “finalizing budget planning for an anti-poaching unit before approaching treasury for funds,” Muyunda said. The deployment of a 400-strong task force drawn from army, police, the intelligence service and farmers has been delayed from the beginning of this year to the first half of 2015, he said.
A plan to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles to assist in monitoring poorly policed national parks in northern and north-east remote parks, is being considered by the country’s cabinet, Muyunda said.