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Africa News of Saturday, 3 April 2021

Source: africanews.com

Namibia struggling to protect rhinos amid pandemic

Animal rights activists warned that rhino slaughtering for the illegal trade of their horns could soar again in Namibia as the coronavirus pandemic has halted the travel industry, affecting many farms that rely on tourism.

Namibia is home to the majority of black rhinos, members of an endangered species usually looked after by private citizens at their own cost and safety.

Rhino conservationist Annette Oelofse has looked after rhinos for thirty years.

She runs a farm in northern Namibia with her son, Alexander.

Oelofse told British broadcaster Sky News that she is ''enraged'' about rhino poaching, as it kills animals ''for nothing.''

Rhinos horns are made of keratin, the same substance found in human nails, and has no protein or healing values, but in some Asian countries is considered a symbol of wealth.

The rhino horn has no legal value, and under international law, it is illegal to sell it or buy it, but on the black market it can be sold for millions of dollars.

Currently, fewer than 6,000 rhinos are living in Namibia, and for decades now Oelofse and her family have dedicated their lives to try and save each of them.

But with the tourism and safari industry halted, many fear the anti-poaching organizations will back down due to the lack of funds, leaving a clear way for poachers to kill rhinos and sell their horns on the black market.

Safari Wildlife Protection Founder Salmon Vermaak, who runs its team of anti-poachers, said farms were forced to cut the cost, leaving many rhinos in the hands of poachers.

Namibia has been struggling with rhino slaughtering for years, but it has seen a decrease in the illegal practice during the coronavirus lockdown.

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