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Earth Champions: South African anti-poaching group wins UNEP award

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The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit
The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Cape Town: Black Mambas, a South African anti-poaching group was awarded ‘Champions of the Earth’ prize for its efforts to protect the endangered rhinos by United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

The group was awarded on Monday for the “rapid and impressive impact” it had made in combating poaching, Xinhua reported.

The group has been devoted to anti-poaching patrols and education for communities near areas that are home to wildlife, according to South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa.

“Community-led initiatives are crucial to combating the illegal trade in wildlife, and the Black Mambas highlights how effective local knowledge and commitment can be,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

The award will be handed to the group by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in New York on September 27.

Molewa said the South African government is working to create “economically viable models” to make local communities “less vulnerable to being recruited by poaching syndicates.”

“The introduction of environmental monitors into areas facing high numbers of poaching incidents has played a demonstrable role in combating this crime through their work of educating communities in the area on the benefits of conservation and rhino protection,” the official said.

Established in 2013, Black Mambas comprises of 25 women and one man who are all from local communities close to national reserves in north-east South Africa.

Since they were deployed at the Balule Nature Reserve in the north Limpopo province, only four rhino have been poached.

The group has assisted in the arrest of six poachers, removed over 1,000 snares and broke down two bush-meat kitchens.

“The Black Mambas are a shining example of the promise of government, the private sector and communities to eradicating rhino poaching in South Africa,” Molewa said.

As of August 27, South Africa has lost 749 rhinos to poaching this year.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Rhino Poaching in Namibia Drops in 2019: Ministy of Environment and Tourism

Namibia Rhino poaching drops in 2019, after sharp rise last year

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Rhino
Rhino poaching in Namibia has dropped since the last year. Pixabay

Rhino poaching in Namibia dropped to 41 individuals killed in all of 2019 so far, compared with nearly 72 during the same period last year, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism said Saturday.

Namibia has the second-largest population of white rhinos in the world after South Africa and, according to NGO Save the Rhino, it holds one-third of the world’s remaining black rhinos.

Poaching in Namibia to feed mostly East Asian markets has yo-yoed since peaking in 2015 at 95 rhinos, falling to 60 in 2016, 36 in 2017 and then going up to 72 again last year — all figures counted from January through mid-December.

“The public continues to assist us in arresting perpetrators of this crime,” ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said by telephone. “We have also beefed up our intelligence so that we can anticipate poaching activities before they happen.”

Rhino
A newborn female southern white rhinoceros calf, born August 14 and weighing 50 kilograms, stands next to its mother, Tanda, at the Safari Zoo in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, Israel. VOA

Despite being composed of the same substance as hair and fingernails, rhino horn is prized in East Asia as a supposed medicine for multiple ailments, and is also prized by business elites for trinkets and other products because of its rarity.

While cracking down on poachers, Namibia is also lobbying against the rules that govern the global trade in endangered species, after other countries rejected proposals to relax restrictions on legal hunting and exporting its white rhinos.

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It wants to allow more trophy hunting of rhinos and export of live animals, arguing that the funds it would raise would help it to protect the species, an argument rejected in August by countries that are party to the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species.

The ministry’s data showed 329 people were charged with poaching offenses between 2014 and 2018, of whom all were African apart from 17 Chinese. (VOA)