African countries must stand together on poaching: Herunga

21 May 2014 17:20pm

WINDHOEK, 21 MAY (NAMPA) ? Namibia and other African countries should collaborate and find new ways to stop poaching, as it has reached crisis point. This was the call of Environment and Tourism Minister Uahekua Herunga in the capital on Wednesday during a two-day session on improving protected areas? governance for livelihood security and biodiversity in southern Africa. He was addressing delegates from across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and beyond at the event. ?Illegal hunting, especially of elephants and rhinos, is another challenge which we are faced with on the African continent. We should find ways as the African continent to stop these illegal activities on our biodiversity. In this regard, we need to collaborate as African states. We need to have joint intelligence on this matter, and learn from each other,? he noted. The protection of wildlife should essentially involve preventing crime, Herunga said, adding that the focus should be on preventing animals from being killed illegally, and not just on following-up after the killing. He suggested that the most effective component of wildlife crime prevention is perhaps that of establishing and maintaining a law-enforcement or security presence on the ground. For wildlife protection, this requires dedicated, well-trained and well-equipped field staff. However, Herunga raised the concern that in the face of high-value products such as rhino horn and ivory as well as the involvement of external criminal syndicates, this is seldom sufficient, and additional components are required. In recent years, poaching levels have soared on the continent, and the current crisis is creating debates worldwide about the best way to tackle illegal poaching. On the local scene, a total of 123 elephant poaching cases were reported since 2005 until 2014. Since the beginning of this year, five elephants have been poached, according to recent statistics issued by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. The year 2012 recorded the highest number of elephant poaching cases at 78, while 38 cases were reported in 2013 and only one case was reported in 2011. No cases were reported between 2007 and 2010. On rhino poaching, statistics indicated that 11 cases of poaching of the iconic species were reported between 2005 and 2014. Four cases were reported in 2014 alone, and another four in 2013. No rhino poaching cases were recorded between 2005 and 2010. (NAMPA) PC/AS/