Nam anti-poaching gets ‘bite’

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Timo Shihepo

Windhoek - Namibia has recorded a drastic reduction in poaching in the past three years because of improved response mechanisms.

Most of the success is attributed to the Environment and Tourism Ministry’s efforts to upscale law enforcement components of conservation.

Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta said anti-poaching canine units (the Ministry of Environment and Tourism Dog Unit) had been deployed to good effect.

“The Dog Unit is part of our anti-poaching initiatives. We are confident that this has become a formidable unit in the fight against wildlife crime now and in the future, and has contributed to some of the arrests recorded so far. They will continue to make a measurable, tangible difference towards augmenting current law enforcement and conservation initiatives,” said Minister Shifeta.

The minister said the ministry had purchased four more dogs from the Netherlands to add bite to the unit. They will be trained at the Waterberg Wildlife Protection and Law Enforcement Training Centre before they are deployed at Bwabwata National Park to cover the northeast regions of Zambezi, Kavango East, Kavango West and parts of Otjozondjupa Regions.

Another unit will also be deployed in the central regions to cover Khomas, Hardap, Omaheke, and /Karas.

“We want to ensure that no wild animal is illegally killed in our country, and that wildlife benefits the people of this country,” said Minister Shifeta.

Statistics from the Environment Ministry show that inroads are being made in reducing wildlife poaching, and arrests of suspected poachers are rising.

In 2020, 17 rhinos have been poached to date compared to 46 in 2019 and 78 in 2018.  Eighty-nine people have been arrested for rhino-related crimes this year, compared to 175 in 2019 and 109 in 2018. This year, 15 rhino horns have been recovered against eight in 2019 and 13 in 2018.

For elephants, only two cases of poaching have been recorded this year compared to 13 in 2019 and 27 in 2018. To date, 30 people have been arrested for elephant-related cases this year, compared to 90 in 2019 and 66 in 2018; while 38 tusks and 16 pieces of ivory have been against 116 in 2019 and 99 in 2018.

In 2020, three live pangolins have been seized compared to 49 in 2019 and 25 in 2018; while 35 pangolin skins and 612 scales have been seized this year compared to 74 skins in 2019 and 61 in 2018.

In all, 53 suspects have been arrested in connection with pangolin-related cases this year, compared to 160 in 2019 and 120 in 2018.

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