No illegal squatting in national parks: Shifeta

20 Jan 2016 18:40pm
WINDHOEK, 20 JAN (NAMPA) – Illegal squatters in Namibia’s national parks should vacate such areas before March this year or face the full wrath of the law, the Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta warns.
In an interview with Nampa on Tuesday, he raised the concern about the influx of unlawful tenants, especially in the Etosha National Park, saying this could lead to cooperation among poaching syndicates and would-be poachers.
During a recent fact-finding visit to the park, Shifeta and his team found illegal squatting, illicit sale of alcohol, smuggling of drugs, and gambling at the living quarters of park staff members.
“They (officials) are really bending the rules. No illegal squatting with family members; no selling of alcohol; and no gambling machines will be allowed in the country’s national parks,” the minister cautioned.
He expressed his disappointment with officials from the ministry as well as from the Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) for ignoring the rules of the park.
Shifeta also complained about the erection of unauthorised structures at the living quarters. Workers there also keep domestic animals such as dogs, chickens and pigs, something that is not allowed in the park.
Another concern is the many illegal dumping sites and litter, especially plastic bags, scattered all over. He said the park is an environmental time bomb, and called on the park management and supervisors to do their jobs with vigour and diligence.
Shifeta warned that anyone found not complying with the rules would be charged and could lose their jobs. Various meetings were held with park personnel to strengthen and intensify methods to prevent such irregularities as well as poaching in the park.
“We need to keep our national parks clean - they are special places. We must appreciate and respect the rules. Visitors do not come where the environment is dirty. We should take care of our parks, animals and the environment,” urged the minister.