By Mathias Haufiku
Despite the enormous challenge, government remains vigilant and determined not to allow poachers to win the illegal poaching battle. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) this week announced that no elephant poaching cases have been recorded so far this year. Last year an alarming 78 of the country's estimated 20 000-strong elephant population succumbed at the hands of ruthless poachers. Speaking exclusively to New Era yesterday, MET Director for Parks and Wildlife Management, Colgar Sikopo, said the ministry has measures in place and is working closely with law enforcement agencies to mitigate the situation.
"The last poaching case was reported in November last year. At the moment poaching activities are confined to the Caprivi Region due to its high elephant population," he said. "Last year the number increased significantly, because there were a lot of poaching incidents between April and October. People simply poach the animals for the ivory, because all the carcasses we found were without the tusks," Sikopo said.
Although he did not have the exact number of jumbos poached in 2011, he said the figure was definitely less than 10. He said there were no reported cases in other parts of the country pertaining to the illegal poaching of elephants. Information from the police indicate that two cases of illegal poaching were reported last year, while six cases of possession of ivory were reported. Four foreign nationals, Angola (1), Botswana (2) and Zambia (1) were arrested during police operations relating to those cases.
The director was particularly concerned with the number of foreigners involved in poaching, adding that poaching has become a cross-border activity. "Some of the locals who were arrested are connected to foreigners. This is a serious concern to us, because our animals are removed from the ecosystem in an incorrect manner. This also negatively impacts the trophy hunting industry, because communities benefit less as a result," said Sikopo.
Although rhino poaching is not such a big concern in Namibia, as is the case in South Africa, Sikopo said the MET is ready should the rhino poaching syndicates cross over into Namibia. A total of 57 rhinos were butchered in South Africa in January alone this year, 42 of them in the Kruger National Park. Of the 18 suspected poachers arrested since January 01, 2013, eleven were arrested in the Kruger National Park and three of them were fatally wounded. More....