17 May 2014 14:40pm
WINDHOEK, 17 MAY (NAMPA) - The Minister of Environment and Tourism (MET) expressed concern over the increase in rhino poaching and the illegal possession of rhino horns in the country.
Speaking during his ministry's annual awards' ceremony for field workers in the capital on Friday, Uahekua Herunga said poaching for ivory from elephants and rhino horns is presently occurring in southern Africa.
In Namibia, poaching for elephant horns has taken place in the North Eastern regions of the country, but has now been contained.
Close to 15 field workers received awards aimed at serving as a motivation for others to perform better in their duties.
He, therefore, commended his staff members and stakeholders, including the communities through the conservancies and traditional authorities in the north-eastern regions of Zambezi and Kavango East, for their efforts in containing the situation of illegal hunting of elephants in that part of the country.
The MET minister also announced that following the National Stakeholder Consultative Workshop on Wildlife Law Enforcement and Crime Prevention held last week, his ministry is now developing a strategy to upgrade law-enforcement and wildlife crime prevention capacity in the country for immediate action which should be part of, and feed into, the overall strategy.
He said long-term strategic activities will involve issues of investigations, prosecution, prevention, recruitment, training and discipline, collaborating with other law-enforcement agencies within Namibia and in neighbouring countries, and developing ways to involve communal conservancies more effectively in selected aspects of law-enforcement.
The government continues to maintain and manage protected areas that even species such as black rhino which seemed destined for extinction are on the increase, said Herunga, adding that wildlife migration corridors are being reopened.
This maintenance and management of protected areas is conducted in accordance with activities such as water provision to game, wildlife crime prevention, inspections and law-enforcement, human wildlife crime prevention and inspections, law enforcement and human wildlife conflict management.
He stressed that despite the successes in wildlife conservation and benefits thereof, his ministry recognises that living with wildlife often carries a cost, with increased wildlife populations and expanded ranges into communal and freehold farming areas, frequent conflicts between people and wild animals, particularly elephants and predators are being experienced.
This has resulted in livestock and crop losses, damage to water installations and in some instances loss of human lives.
The government also recognises that such conflicts have always existed where people and wildlife live together and will continue to do so in the future, he said.
This means that it will not be possible to eradicate all conflict, but that conflict has to be managed in the most effective and efficient ways, said Herunga. (NAMPA)