09 Nov 2015 16:30pm
WINDHOEK, 09 NOV (NAMPA) The Namibian Police Force (NamPol) have arrested 75 rhino and elephant poaching suspects since May this year.
Seven of the suspects have been released due to a lack of evidence.
Providing figures during a Parliament session last Tuesday, Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta said: Officials of the ministry continue to work closely with the police in wildlife crime prevention and law enforcement all over the country. A total of 75 suspects have so far been arrested from areas surrounding the Etosha National Park area and the Bwabwata National Park area.
Seventy-seven (77) rhinos and 37 elephants were killed by poachers between January and April 2015 in Namibia.
Of the seven suspects, who were released due to a lack of evidence, one was an Angolan national. Most of the suspects were arrested in the areas of Onamutanga, Uutsathima, Iitapa and Otyenoa in the Omusati Region. A total of 42 suspects have so far been charged with the illegal hunting of rhinos.
Providing more details, Shifeta said that in the Kunene Region, five suspects were arrested on the road between Warmquelle and Sesfontein in connection with one black rhino cow that was poached in Omatendeka Conservancy on 12 June 2015. The suspects were found with a gun and two fresh rhino horns in their possession.
In another operation, three suspects were arrested in the Kunene Region and are allegedly linked to poaching in the Palmwag tourism concession area. Rifles and ammunition were found in their possession.
Shifeta said between January and April 2015, 64 rhinos were killed in the Etosha National Park alone. This total included three old rhino carcasses. Eight rhinos were killed this year in the Kunene Region in the areas of Omatendeka, Orupembe. One was killed in January, while four rhinos were killed in March; one in June; and two in October 2015.
On private farms, a total of five rhinos were killed. Three rhinos were killed in March; one in June; and one in September 2015.
On elephant poaching, Shifeta said the 37 jumbos were mainly killed in Bwabwata National Park, which forms part of the Kavango East and Zambezi Regions.
During the anti-poaching operation, the police confiscated a total of 59 rifles and a large amount of ammunition. A total of 32 rifles, potentially linked to poaching, have been confiscated from Etosha National Park and surrounding areas. Twenty-three of these rifles have been sent for ballistic tests.
We will continue to work with other security agencies in the protection of wildlife and investigation of cases as more information is revealed, Shifeta added.