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 Namibia rhino poaching infographic
Graphic shows numbers of Rhinos poached in Namibia since 2014.


Namibia rhino poaching surges

By Duncan Mil

January 31, 2023 - The number of endangered rhinos poached in Namibia in 2022 was the highest for four years – and almost double the 2021 figure – driven by the illegal horn trade.

Namibia, home to the only free-roaming black rhinos left in the world, recorded 87 cases of rhino poaching last year, compared with 45 in all of 2021 and 32 in 2020.

One rhino poaching incident has been recorded in 2023 so far. That brings the total tally of rhinos poached since 2014 to 543.

Gangs have decimated Africa’s rhino population to feed the demand for rhino horn, which, despite being made of keratin -- the same stuff as hair and fingernails -- is prized in East Asia as a supposed medicine, aphrodisiac and as jewellery.

At least 54 per cent of all rhino horn seizures worldwide involve citizens from China and Vietnam.

With the price of African rhinoceros tusks surging to more than US$60,000 per kilogram, they are now almost as valuable as gold. And with the weight of tusks often reaching two kilograms, poaching is again on the rise in Namibia.

Wealthy buyers bid for antique rhino horn carvings to display or as investments. A report by the World Wildlife Fund’s trade monitoring programme, TRAFFIC, described how wealthy Vietnamese and Asians would “routinely mix rhino horn powder with water or alcohol as a general health and hangover-curing tonic.” That group also included men who believed rhino horn could cure impotence and enhance sexual performance.

PUBLISHED: 31/01/2023; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Pictures: Getty Images, IFAW via Flickr