Suspected rhino poacher and police in gunfire exchange near Otavi

A 40-year-old suspected rhino poacher on Sunday exchanged gunfires with a team of 15 police officers and members of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) for nearly two-hours on a farm outside Otavi.

The Otjozondjupa Regional Crime Investigations Coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Naukalemo Andreas in an interview with Nampa on Monday said the exchange of gunfires started at about 12h00 on Sunday afternoon until 14h00 when the suspect allegedly had abandoned the hunting rifle he was using to shoot.

Andreas said the suspect was on Sunday at about 12h00 spotted walking on Farm Streben, situated less than 40 kilometres southwest of Otavi.

The suspected poacher at that time was allegedly armed with a hunting rifle and two butcher knives.

The farmworkers who first saw him then alerted in the police from Otavi, who then also called in for back up other police officers from Kombat.

Their joint police team then followed the suspect's footprints on the farm.

At a distance, the poacher first spotted the police officers and opened fired in their direction, said Andreas.

The police officers also fired back to him and this exchange of gunfires lasted for about two-hours until the suspect allegedly dropped the gun and a piece of a rhino horn, Andreas said.

The suspect continued running with a plan to escape on foot inside Farm Streben, but the police called in an NDF helicopter which also joined the pursuit of the suspect.

At about 23h00 on Sunday night the suspect was finally arrested with another piece of a rhino horn, ammunitions, water container and his shoes on Farm Marula situated adjacent Streben.

Andreas said no injury was recorded in this gunfire exchange.

The suspect who is from the Kavango West Region is expected to appear on Tuesday in the Otavi Magistrate's Court on charges of hunting a specially protected game from Etosha National Game Park; possession of rhino horns and unlicensed gun and ammunition, including attempted murder for firing at the police officers in uniforms.

Police investigations continue.

Source: Namibia Press Agency