Huge increase in poaching: Shifeta

03 Aug 2016 18:40pm
WINDHOEK, 03 AUG (NAMPA) - Unprecedented poaching incidents have increased tremendously in recent years, with a total of 162 rhinos poached from last year to date.
Eighty elephants were killed by poachers over the same period.
Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta revealed these figures during a media conference here on Wednesday.
The majority of the rhino poaching incidents occurred within the Etosha National Park in north-western Namibia as close to 90 were poached there alone. Shifeta said the worst would be for that number to be exceeded.
“It is a pity. But what we want is for that number not to go beyond that,” he said while attributing the unabated incidents to the vast habitat, which is a challenge when locating and apprehending those suspected.
“Some of them [poachers] even camp inside the [Etosha] park and when they hear the helicopter, they either hide under rocks or in bushes. So, we want to introduce horses now as part of our strategy.”
Shifeta noted that while the presence of anti-poaching officials and members of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) in the Kunene Region is visible and appears effective, this has forced poachers to relocate and proceed with the crime in other parts of the country.
According to the minister, poaching incidents are mostly prevalent in the first quarter of every year, particularly from January till June.
Rhinos poached this year include eight in the Kunene Region and one on a private farm at an undisclosed location.
Thirty-seven of the 162 rhinos were poached in 2016, while 31 elephants were poached this year and 49 in 2015.
Shifeta stressed that poaching suspects and those involved in the soliciting of illegal wildlife products should be denied bail or either stricter conditions should be imposed.
He suggested that suspected poachers should at least be required to report at least three times after their arrest at a particular police station and should always apply for permission when traveling for more than five kilometres while out on bail.
Shifeta said his ministry will seek collaboration with various traditional authorities and the Office of the Prosecutor General in the hope of addressing the issue.
“They are State organs and they must comply. They have no other choice.”