• June 1st, 2020

'Drought exacerbates cable theft in the south'

LÜDERITZ – The effects of the prevailing drought have seen a rise in cases of copper cable theft by people illegally crossing into Namibia along the Orange River from neighbouring South Africa, according to an environment official. 

Ministry of Environment and Tourism chief warden Wayne Handley, responsible for the Tsau Khaeb National Park, revealed this to New Era in an interview last week.

He said they have challenges in terms of lack of manpower, transport and general resourcing.
He said that although poaching of wildlife is not a big challenge, he has been informed by Namdeb security of intrusions into the diamond protected areas of the park by alleged South Africans who target copper cables.

“We are not aware of poaching specific in the Orange River. People will take opportunities. If they set up snares, they could catch wildlife and, in that area, it could be gemsbok. The main cause of these illegal activities is the prevailing drought both in Namibia and South Africa. The Orange River is extremely low at the moment. It’s almost dry in many places, so crossing is not a problem. So, the South African communities are also going through a tough time and they will do anything to survive,” Handley said.
Besides, gemsbok, there are also springbok in the park. 

According to him, the solution to the illegal crossings is to increase ministry staff to supplement Namdeb’s high-tech security technologies. Currently, only two staff members patrol the huge 22 000-square km Tsau Khaeb National Park. He said his colleague also struggles with off-road driving as she lacks such experience. “She really battles with 4x4 driving off-road. Mobility is a problem. To be alone in this massive park, it’s scary,” Handley said. He noted that to tackle the harsh conditions in the park needs an additional at least 20 experienced staff members. 

Further, he said that currently no formal joint crime prevention action between Namibia and South Africa regarding illegal activities around the Orange River takes place.
In terms of damage to the virgin dunes he said there is none as the park is not yet open to the public. 
This means anyone entering the park would need permission from Namdeb that owns the protected area for mining purposes. 

Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta has revealed that the Ministry of Mines and Energy has agreed there is a need to amend the Diamond Act of 1999 to allow a tourism concession to the Tsau Khaeb National Park (Sperrgebiet), where Namdeb is mining. 

Since the proclamation of the park in 2008, little progress has been achieved in developing tourism in the park due to current access requirements into the area as the park falls within a declared diamond area under the Diamond Act, No. 13 of 1999, and access into the park is therefore restricted. 

Albertina Nakale
2019-11-22 07:38:42 | 6 months ago


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