Poachers kill three elephants since start of year

WINDHOEK: Three elephants fell prey to poachers in the Bwabwata National Park in the Zambezi Region since the beginning of the year.

The Director of Regional Services and Parks’ Management in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) Colgar Sikopo provided the figure during a one-day workshop here to strategise the national response on illegal hunting of rhinos and elephants.

The slaughter of elephants and rhinos in the country also hit a new record in 2014 – 78 elephants and 24 rhinos.

Speaking at the same event, Environment Minister Uahekua Herunga said a division of Wildlife Protection Services within his ministry is near completion.

“We are currently in the final stages of the creation of this unit, which we want to be operational within the new financial year which starts in April this year. We have worked with the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) and Namibian Defense Force (NDF) in putting the boots on the ground and intensify our patrols, and we continue to improve on this,” he noted.

The Nature Conservation Ordinance 4 of 1975 is also being revised and is receiving urgent attention and priority, according to Herunga.

Following an extended period of low wildlife crime in Namibia, Herunga emphasized that there is a clear requirement for a strategy to upgrade law-enforcement and wildlife crime-prevention capacity in the country as well as for immediate action that should be part of and feed into the overall strategy.

Short and long-term strategic measures should involve the issue of human capacity; surveillance; patrolling and detection; intelligence gathering and criminal investigation; legal framework and prosecution; community care; as well as engagement with all stakeholders.

“The situation demands a review and update of our current strategies and measures to curb illegal hunting. As poaching groups increase in size, number and sophistication, it is more important than ever that law-enforcement responses are robust, reliable and effective,” he added.