By Mathias Haufiku
San communities resident in the Bwabwata National Park feel the mushrooming of illegal settlements east of Omega is the main reason elephant poaching in the park has increased in recent years.
Recently the carcasses of what appear like recently butchered elephants were found in the Bwabwata National Park, prompting the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to send a team to ascertain whether they were new cases. Last year the ministry, overwhelmed by an increase in elephant poaching in the Bwabwata National Park, even went to the extent of enlisting the services of the Namibian Defence Force to track down the teams of marauding poachers.
Also, last year at least four poachers were arrested after they were caught red-handed with several elephant tusks that they obtained through wanton illegal poaching. At the time environment and tourism officials said 18 elephant carcasses were discovered in the northeastern Bwabwata National Park killed by gangs of marauding poachers for their precious ivory, which is in high demand in Asian countries.
During a meeting yesterday at Mutjiku, a village in eastern Kavango, the San told New Era that poaching only became a problem when a group of people from other areas migrated into the park to set up settlements.
"There are many Angolan nationals east of Omega who are even farming with cattle. We also had cattle but government told us that we cannot (farm with them)," said Thaddeus Chedau, the chairperson of the Kyaramacan Association through which the San are involved in tourism projects.
The San living within the Bwabwata National Park have pleaded with government to employ them in the park as game wardens, because they have indigenous knowledge that they could put to good use to track poachers. With poaching continuing unabated in the park, Chedau once again urged the government to employ the locals in order to preserve elephants and other game. More....