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Rhinos remain endangered species in Africa- Hofmeyr

The internationally acclaimed rhino conservation specialist, Dr Markus Hofmeyr said rhinos remain endangered species in Africa.

Speaking at the Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) 31st Annual Gala Dinner Dance at Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) on Friday, Hofmeyr said due to poaching, rhinos are perishing at an alarming rate. The theme for the event was ‘Botswana-Africa’s Safe Haven for Rhinos?’ He said African rhinos are extremely vulnerable to poaching. “Poaching is the single biggest threat to the remaining rhino populations.” He said in some countries like Angola, Mozambique, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia only a handful to zero percent of rhino populations exist.  “As you see, these countries have about one to zero percent population of black rhinos. They do not have white rhinos. They have all perished,” he added. He also pointed out that Swaziland, Tanzania and Botswana have about two to three percent population of black rhinos remaining. Zimbabwe and Kenya have been able to preserve five percent of their rhinos. His diagram showed that Namibia managed to preserve two percent of their white and 10 percent black rhinos. Hofmeyr said South Africa (SA) is the only country in Africa with 80 percent of their rhinos. SA, unlike other African countries, has many white rhinos- more than 70 percent of the total population of rhinos in the country.

He said 80 percent of white rhino and 50 percent of black rhino remaining in the world occur in South Africa and close to 95 percent for both black and white rhino in Southern Africa (SA, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia).

“Rhinos have been around for millions of years and play a crucial role in their ecosystem. They’re important grazers, consuming large amounts of vegetation, which helps shape the African landscape.

“This benefits other animals and keeps a healthy balance within the ecosystem. Local people also depend on the natural resources within rhino habitat for food,

fuel and income,” Hofmeyr said.

The rhino specialist added that as one of Africa’s Big Five, rhinos are a popular sighting for tourists. He said ecotourism could be an important source of income for local people.

He added that by helping to protect the rhino, people would be helping to conserve its habitat for the benefit of both people and wildlife, helping support local communities through ecotourism and making sure natural resources are available for generations to come.

Hofmeyr said it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that wild animals such as rhinos are protected so that they do not perish.

Giving his remarks, the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, said Botswana is increasingly being identified as a leader in providing a safe environment for endangered species, including rhinos. “However, this extremely privileged position brings with it a tremendous level of responsibility about sustainability. In September 2014, CNN reported on the World Wildlife Fund’s findings highlighting a 52 percent overall decline in the global wildlife population, 76 percent in freshwater species, 39 percent in terrestrial species and 39 in marine species,” he stated.

He said to date, sustaining a safe and viable environment for endangered species in the face of exploitation, habitat degradation, habitat loss, pollution, disease, climate change as a result of invasive species was extremely onerous.

Khama added that providing a safe environment requires tremendous levels of commitment in terms of research, innovation and protection. He said his ministry recognises that they cannot meet their objective in providing safe environments within their borders without the help of all Batswana and her friends, conservationists and concerned citizens around the world. He introduced,Tlhokomela Botswana Endangered Wildlife Trust, which he said, had a number of exciting initiatives lined up to generate awareness on protecting wild animals.




Ga e a tsoga kgomo e khunwana!

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