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Martin, E.B., 1993. Rhino poaching in Namibia from 1980 to 1990 and the illegal trade in the horn. Pachyderm 17: 39-51, figs. 1-5, tables 1-5

Location: Africa - Southern Africa - Namibia
Subject: Distribution - Status
Species: Black Rhino

Original text on this topic:
Diceros bicornis - numbers and poaching 1980-1992. The largest number of black rhinos in Namibia are in Etosha National Park. (There are no white rhinos in this Park). From 1980 to June 1991 its rhino population grew from an estimated 275-350 to between 400 and 450 animals (see Table 1). These are net figures, however, as some rhinos were translocated out to other parts of Namibia or exported, and poaching reduced the population by a minimum of 48 animals in that period.
The first recent serious poaching of Etosha's black rhinos occurred in 1984. Herero people armed with .303 rifles shot at least 15 animals during the day time and removed only the horns. This poaching occurred in the west of the Park, where most of the rhinos are to be found and because many Hereros live just outside. Also, a road gives access to the region. Unfortunately, little patrolling was done away from the main roads, there was insufficient staff in the area to act as a poaching deterrent, and no arrests were made (Allan Cilliers, Chief Conservation Official - Management - Etosha, pers. comm.).
No poaching was recorded in 1985 or 1986, but in 1987, poaching flared up once again. A Herero businessman from the Kaokoveld supplied .303 and G3 rifles to a gang of Hereros. The men stayed in the Park for about a day and killed seven rhinos, again on the western side. The middleman offered the poachers 200 rands ($98) for a pair of horns which weighed 3.5 to 4 kilos. This contact man in turn may have sold the pair of horns for up to 2,000 rands ($980) to middlemen in Kamanjab and Otjiwarongo towns just south of Etosha. From there, the horn may have gone to Windhoek and Lisbon. Two middlemen and several poachers were arrested (A. Cilliers, pers. comm.).
In 1989, 23 rhinos were known to have been killed in the northwest of the Park by Ovambo and Herero poachers. Their contact men, Hereros and Ovambos, lived at Opuwa in the Kaokoveld and Oshakati in Ovamboland; they supplied food, guns, ammunition and transport. They offered 200 rands ($76) for a pair of horns. About five small gangs, usually consisting of only two people, spent between one and three days in the Park. They shot the animals during the'day; and as well as the horns, for the first time in recent years, they also took some skin (A. Cilliers, pers. comm.) The contact men hoped to sell a pair of horns to Portuguese and Angolans in Windhoek for 2,000 to 4,000 rands ($760 to $1,520). Most of the poachers and contacts were caught, however. Their sentences varied from six months ao eight years in prison.
In 1990, only two animals were poached, one in the west and one in the east. In the west, a .303 rifle was used by Herero or Ovambo hunters. In the east, a businessman in Oshakati supported the hunters. In both cases, the horn was most likely sent to Portuguese traders in Windhoek (A. Cilliers, pers. comm.).
This sharp decline in rhino poaching in 1990 was due to new policies implemented by Etosha Park's senior staff. Up until 1989, the worst year for rhino poaching in Namibia as a whole, Etosha had had no special anti-poaching unit nor a formal intelligence gathering network. In 1989, anti-poaching staff was recruited which by 1991 consisted of 23 well-trained men. Half of these men are armed and they travel on foot, on horses or in vehicles. This unit spends 50% of its time patrolling outside the Park, mostly in the north and west, obtaining information from informants in the villages. So far, the unit has been a success. This can be attributed to their honesty, motivation, discipline and good training. The officer in charge carefully chose these 23 men from 120 individuals to make up this elite anti-poaching corps. They are given certain bonuses including an extra allowance, and men working away from home are offered more benefits. Such a person thus earned in 1991 1,080 rands a month ($382), considerably more than the average scout.
Along with the new anti-poaching unit, a more formal intelligence gathering system was set up in Etosha. Relatively large sums of money were made available to pay for information. Data leading to a conviction can earn an informer up to 6,000 rands ($2,143).
In order to increase the efficiency of the Park staff who handle the illegal activities within the Park, some have been sent for further training to the Police Academy, to learn how to identify empty cartridge cases, fill out dockets, etc. Thus both in-house and external training of Etosha's staff has been greatly increased in order to combat poaching of rhinos, and also other animals such as giraffe, springbok, zebra and ostrich.
The Etosha authorities, especially Allan Cilliers, greatly increased their efforts in identifying individual rhinos in the Park. Although Allan Cilliers started to monitor rhinos in 1986, he expanded this work in 1989 after the severe poaching, by attempting to photograph each rhino in the Park. He used a flash camera with black and white film to photograph each rhino as it came to the waterholes at night to drink. This is only effective a few days before and after the full moon. Although, the photographets are on foot, incredibly, the black rhinos do not attack at night. It would be impossible to get so close to them during the day. Allan Cilliers has trained six people to carry out this photographic identification system. By July 1992, he had recognized 372 individual rhinos. He estimates that the Park holds 400 to 450 black rhinos and that they have been increasing at 5.6% per annum since 1986.

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