Public to discuss stiffer penalties for poachers

WINDHOEK: The Protected Areas and Wildlife Management Bill, which proposes fines for wildlife crimes, is scheduled to go for public consultation in the next two months.

This consultation will take place before the end of June 2015 or early July 2015, said the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta at a media briefing on Monday.

“We are in constant discussions with the Prosecutor-General with regard to issues related to courts and prosecution thereof,” he stated.

The Bill aims, “to provide a legal framework to provide for and promote the maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and the biological diversity of Namibia, and the utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of Namibians, both present and future, and to promote the mutually-beneficial co-existence of humans with wildlife to give effect to Namibia’s obligations under relevant international legal instruments and to repeal the Nature Conservation Ordinance 4 of 1975”.

In safe guarding the country’s biological diversity, Shifeta said the ministry also established a National Wildlife Protection and Security Committee, which will provide a necessary platform for all stakeholder participation. The committee brings together the heads or appropriately delegated representatives from all national Government agencies, organizations, departments, civil society and other appropriate bodies in regular meetings and gatherings to discuss strategic activities, operations and actions addressing wildlife enforcement and compliance.

He said the ministry is also continuing to provide communication, education and community awareness programs, although much is still to be done in this regard.

“We therefore need to do more awareness and education to better understand the importance of wildlife and existence of such parks. Communities have a role to play through their local leadership such as traditional authorities and conservancies in stopping poaching and combating wildlife crime. Those involved must stop the illegal hunting of our rhinos and elephants now,” stated Shifeta.