Bwabwata National Park safe for tourists: MET

13 Mar 2018 17:40pm
WINDHOEK, 13 MAR (NAMPA) – The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has assured tourists and other visitors to Namibia of its highest safety consideration within its national parks and tourist attractions across the country.
In a media statement on Tuesday, the ministry’s Chief Public Relations Officer (PRO) Romeo Muyunda said the country remains safe for visitors, despite a recent event in which two tourists were shot at in the Bwabwata National Park.
The incident, which has raised a media storm depicting the area as unsafe for visitors, occurred after the tourists apparently failed to adhere to instructions of the anti-poaching unit operating in the park.
According to Muyunda, the tourists were stopped in a routine operation in the Buffalo Core Area on 28 February 2018.
“The two tourists were approached by members of the anti-poaching unit, who asked them to stop with the intention to search the vehicle as the tourists were on a road used exclusively for wildlife management purposes only, and not open for tourists and visitors to the park,” Muyunda explained.
The two officers were dressed in their official t-shirts and uniform trousers, the PRO said.
He said the tourists however failed to stop, as they presumed that the officers were persons that wanted to rob them.
“Since the vehicle did not stop, unfortunately, one shot was fired at the canopy of the vehicle, hitting the rear window of the canopy, causing damage to the window and a slight dent on the outer roof of the vehicle. No person was injured in this shooting,” said Muyunda.
A meeting between the ministry and security forces within the Bwabwata National Park was already convened on 05 March to prevent similar incidences in the future.
Follow up consultations between wildlife protection and law enforcement stakeholders will also be convened on Friday in the Bwabwata National Park, said Muyunda.
“Our national parks, and Bwabwata National Park in particular, remain very safe to visit and visitors and tourists should go there and enjoy seeing the high numbers of large mammals and bird species that are naturally rare,” he added.
Muyunda said wildlife crime in the country has reached new levels of violence. The frequency of incidents are enhanced and well organised gangs enter vulnerable areas, while crime syndicates organise the trafficking of horns and tusks through complex networks leading to foreign markets.
“In order to bring the current syndicate based wildlife crime under control and to stop poaching, Government through the MET has increased the presence of members of the anti-poaching unit in certain national parks and other conservation areas.