By Armand Meding
Private rhino protection initiatives will start tomorrow, 24 July, with the training of the first seven recruits who would assist in the containing and exposing of the five syndicates so far identified by the Ministry of Environment and Tourismspearheaded by Minister Pohamba Shifeta.
“The time for talking is over. It is now time for action,” said an adamant Jofie Lamprecht, founding member of the Conserving Our Valuable Elephant and Rhino (COVER) organisation.
“The first recruits will be used on commercial farms and conservancies.”
Lamprecht’s statement falls right in line with the government’s steps to eradicate the poaching of rhinos and elephants in Namibia, with recent arrest made of alleged poachers from the five different poaching syndicates operating in Namibia.
Earlier this month, Shifeta informed the nation that 41 poachers were arrested, but told Informanté yesterday that the number of arrests have increased since then.
“This is however not the end. Many more arrests will be made soon and the ministry will inform the public accordingly.”
COVER, consisting of many smaller organisations also involved in the conservation of animals in Namibia, held a meeting with Security Solutions Africa.
“This company has the experience in combatting illegal rhino and elephant hunting and offered to train Namibians to capture these poachers,” Lamprecht said.
COVER aims to train trackers and anti-poaching units, as well as to promote advocacy for the legalisation of the sale of rhino horns and the using of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance purposes.
Lamprecht stated that the proper training of Namibians as anti-poaching units (APUs) is a necessity as they will face armed criminals that will shoot at them if threatened.
“These APUs will also consist of professional trackers and me-dics to ensure the team is ready for anything,” he said.
Shifeta welcomed the training of Namibians against poaching, as long as it is done in good faith and within the legal framework of the country. However, he issued a warning to these companies that conducted the training.
“Recruits should be properly screened as to ensure that training is not conducted with members of one of the five poaching syndicates operating in Namibia,” he said. According to Lam-
precht, the legalisation of the sale of rhino horns and ivory will help conservation, adding that government might submit a request in this regard to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which will meet in March next year.
“This money can be ploughed back in the Game Products Trust Fund to be utilised again for conservation purposes such as training and equipment.”
COVER prides itself when it comes to transparency and honesty. The organisation has reported alleged wrongdoings by one of its members, Next Generation Conservation Trust.