WINDHOEK – Although Cabinet has given the green light to the country’s security forces to be involved in the fight against poaching and other crimes threatening wildlife, the number of armed forces still needs to be intensified.
The escalating poaching of wildlife over the years prompted Cabinet last year to approve a request by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) to allow the country’s security forces to be involved in the fight against poaching and other crimes threatening the country’s wildlife.
Speaking to New Era in an interview yesterday regarding Cabinet approval, the Permanent Secretary of Environment and Tourism, Simeon Negumbo, confirmed that the action has been implemented.
Asked why poaching of endangered species still continues unabated, Negumbo was quick to say, “It has been implemented but the security forces that are there are not sufficient in numbers.”
However, he said the ministry is working hard on increasing armed forces’ presence in national parks where recent cases of rhino and elephant poaching have been reported.
From February to April 7, this year, seven rhino carcasses were discovered in the Etosha National Park alone – six bulls and a cow.
These cases bring the total of poached rhinos in the Etosha National Park since October last year to 11.
Against this, Negumbo said armed forces are on the ground to fight poaching, but the ministry needs to increase their presence.
Meanwhile, in the Kunene Region, about five carcasses of poached rhino were discovered since February this year.
The ministry also expressed concern over recent cases of elephant poaching, particularly in the north east of the country, where nine elephants were poached in the Zambezi Region, while the Kavango regions reported two cases of poached elephants.
This translates to 12 rhinos and 11 elephants carcasses discovered this year alone through poaching.
Negumbo said the ministry, together with the Namibian Police Force, is investigating all the reported new cases of rhino and elephant poaching.
He called on the public to report any suspected cases of poaching to the ministry or to the nearest police station.
Namibia’s elephant population is currently over 20 000. About 78 elephants were poached in 2012, while 38 suffered the same fate last year. More than 10 elephants and 10 rhinos have already been poached so far this year. Negumbo warned those involved in poaching activities to refrain from doing so with immediate effect or risk been caught and face the full wrath of the law.
Poaching on the African continent continues to be the leading cause of death of much wildlife.
Last year, British soldiers were deployed to Kenya to join the fight to stop ivory poaching by terrorists, who are allegedly funding their military operations by selling elephant tusks and rhino horns on the £12 billion-a-year ivory black market.
Globally, in the past year 60 wardens and 38 000 elephants have been killed by poachers.