Namibia launches SMS hotline to report rhino poaching
Posted on 20 May 2011
Namibia recently established an SMS hotline to allow the public to help defeat rhino poachers. The number to SMS - 55555 - represents “Five fives for rhino”. The confidential hotline is free and enables anyone who knows anything about rhino poaching to contact the authorities safely and anonymously.The Namibian government has been congratulated by international organisations for taking bold and determined steps to deter rhino poaching in that country.
“They have sent out a clear and unequivocal message that the illegal horn trade will not be tolerated. I urge other range states to follow suit,” said Dr Joseph Okori of WWF’s African Rhino Programme.
Namibia recently established an SMS hotline to allow the public to help defeat rhino poachers. The number to SMS - 55555 - represents “Five fives for rhino”. The confidential hotline is free and enables anyone who knows anything about rhino poaching to contact the authorities safely and anonymously.
At the launch of the hotline, Namibia’s Minister of Environment and Tourism, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said, “I want to make it very clear. Here in Namibia we have zero tolerance for poaching. Those who are caught will face harsh penalties. It is no secret that our country is a world leader in rhino conservation and we are extremely proud of this achievement.”
In Namibia, rhinos are specially protected animals and twenty year sentences are imposed for poaching. Dealing in rhino horn is considered by the country to be as serious as illegal diamond dealing.
Minister Nandi-Ndaitwah said rhinos are “tourist magnets” that create jobs, improve rural livelihoods and alleviate poverty. She also said that local communities are the best weapons against poachers.
“During the 1980s poaching was rampant in north-western Namibia. Authorities took drastic action. Some rhinos were de-horned to deter would-be poachers. But it was the Community Game Guard system which produced the best results. We learned that by engaging communities as partners in caring for rhinos and other natural resources that the poachers were beaten,” Nandi-Ndaitwah said.
Recently, a number of rhino were translocated from Etosha National Park into community-run conservancies.
Despite international legislation and domestic bans on trade in rhino horn, rhinos are still under threat from poachers who believe they can make easy money, Minister Nandi-Ndaitwah said. “I want to reiterate to our people that our rhinos are worth far more alive than dead. Take that rhino away and the golden goose is killed forever.”
Chris Weaver, head of WWF in Namibia, said, “WWF strongly supports the proactive manner in which the Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism is creating awareness about potential rhino poaching incidents, and looks forward to assisting the ministry in this process during the coming years.”