Game rangers in Namibia have found the carcasses of 31 rhinos, in the country’s famous Etosha National Park. The rhino were shot over a two week period in April and most had their horns removed.

Namibia’s Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, has told his country’s parliament that the increase in poaching had become a serious challenge and needed to be brought under control without delay.

“The increasing scale and sophistication of poaching activities of rhinos and elephants in the Etosha National Park and some parts of Kunene Region is a worrying trend and a very serious threat to our tourism, Namibia’s international reputation and the country’s wider economy,” he said.

“We will, therefore, now apply a zero tolerance approach to deal with this threat of poaching. We are prioritising the reduction and ultimately the elimination of poaching in the country.”

Shifeta told Namibia’s parliament that the establishment of an urgently needed anti-poaching unit was under way. His ministry will also strengthen co-operation with the Namibian Defence Force and the Namibian Police Force to deal with the increase in poaching.

“We will also mobilise enough human capacity and financial resources to address poaching, as we cannot allow the poaching of our rhinos and elephants to escalate further in this country,” he said.

David Barritt, Network for Animals African director, said that rhino poaching is now so serious that unless it is brought under control, rhinos face extinction in the wild.

“Namibia faces an expensive and difficult task in trying to stop poaching and needs help and support from the international community. The long-term solution is to clamp down on the illegal trade in rhino horn, which fetches high prices in Vietnam.”

About 1,750 of the world’s surviving 4,800 black rhinos live in Namibia.