Nam government not secretive about poaching:Nghitila

WINDHOEK: The Namibian government is not secretive about the illegal killing of wildlife and the illicit trade in wildlife products.

This was said by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET)’s acting Permanent Secretary Theofilus Nghitila in a media statement on Wednesday.

He stated that the ministry would release more information when investigations into the recent cases of rhino-poaching in Namibia are completed.

“The Government of Namibia is not, and will never be secretive about the cases of the illegal killing of wildlife and the illicit trade in wildlife products, as this can only be counter-productive to our efforts to curb the illicit trade in wildlife products and promote conservation”, he stressed.

However, Nghitila said due to the sensitivity of these cases, which are still under investigation and before the courts of law, the MET is not in a position now to give answers to questions, specifically to the media.

MET’S response comes in the wake of a public outcry and finger-pointing by conservationists to government about its silence on the increasing poaching in Namibia.

Local media have been reporting since the beginning of the year on the increases in rhino-poaching.

Three cases were reported to the Namibian Police during March 2014 alone.

Two cases of rhino-poaching were reported on a farm just outside the capital in March this year, following the discovery of the carcasses of two white rhinos with their horns sawn off at the Ongos farm, just west of the capital.

In another incident, three Chinese men made another court appearance here last month for allegedly trying to smuggle 14 rhino horns out of Namibia.

Nghitila stated that the government condemns such ill-intentioned activities of rhino-poaching, and called upon those involved to refrain from such activities with immediate effect, or risk being caught and forced to face the full wrath of the law.

In 1996, the Nature Conservation Ordinance Number 4 of 1975 was amended to allow for the establishment of conservancies in communal areas.

Conservancies are now being established as local community-based institutions for managing natural resources.

Through legislation, communities which form conservancies gain management rights over wildlife and tourism.

They are able to use management rights to develop economic opportunities, such as eco-tourism and hunting.

Nghitila stated that poaching may therefore have severe economic implications through adverse impacts on tourism and trophy-hunting.

“The current illegal wildlife-related activities clearly need to be brought under control.

In doing so, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism will continue strengthening its efforts in effective crime-prevention and law-enforcement through the coordination and integration of clusters of activities,” he added.