Albertina Nakale WINDHOEK - The Khomas Regional Governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua says the encroaching informal settlements around Daan Viljoen Game Park have become a serious cause for concern, since it has resulted in an increase in wildlife crimes committed within those protected areas. A number of threats to the environment have been identified, which include poaching, especially in Daan Viljoen Game Park and the outlying areas of Khomas in general. “Illegal hunting is a crime that is very prevalent in Khomas Region, especially at unsuspecting spots like resettlement farm Versailles No. 67. We are concerned, and the ministry [of environment] has and will continue to conduct several patrols on government farms, and along the corridors, and mount roadblocks in conjunction with other law-enforcement agencies in the Khomas Region,” she said. The governor revealed that a number of wildlife species were illegally hunted across Khomas during the 2017/18 period. She made the revelations during her State of the Region Address last week at the Khomas Regional Council. The 4,000-hectare Daan Viljoen Game Park supports a healthy population of game typical of the Namibian highlands, including giraffe, eland, kudu, oryx, mountain zebra, baboon, warthog, jackal and blue wildebeest. With over 200 species of birds, Daan Viljoen is particularly popular for birding enthusiasts. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism is the sole custodian of Daan Viljoen Game Park. The park plays an important role in housing many wildlife species and serves as a tourist attraction and environmental education facility in the region. “At this point, I would like to warn present and prospective perpetrators of this and similar crimes, to desist from carrying out such selfish and misguided acts that are tantamount to undermining our economy,” she warned without shedding light on what actions would be taken against illegal occupiers. Fines and penalties for illegal hunting and other related wildlife offences or crimes were amended through amendments to the Nature Conservation Ordinance, 1975 (Act No. 4 of 1975) to make them stiffer for would-be offenders. The Nature Conservation Amendment Act, 2017 (Act No. 3 of 2017) was promulgated in June 2017. A couple of years ago the City of Windhoek took the first legal steps to have a group of illegal occupants evicted from land which the city owns close to Daan Viljoen Game Park. However, McLeod-Katjirua said as far as land matters are concerned, the Khomas Regional Council, in conjunction with the Ministry of Land Reform during the period under review, convened a consultative meeting with stakeholders in the region to seek views and opinions on the land reform programme and other land-related matters in preparation for the hosting of the second National Land Conference. “I am reliably informed that there is another round of consultations to be held soon this year in preparation for the second National Land Conference to be hosted in October 2018. I urge all the stakeholders in the region to honour that invitation when the times arise,” she said. The governor thanked the environment ministry for its continued efforts to register butcheries, game dealers, professional hunters and hunting farms across the region. She says all these activities facilitate economic development of the rural parts of Khomas. She further noted that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism provided game meat to the !Khomain community during their traditional festivities and also donated game meat to centres for needy and vulnerable members of society, such as Mother’s Voice, Mount Sinai, Foundation Care, Moria Grace, Katutura Old Age Home, Tuhafeni Pre-Primary, Planet Hope Centre and Children Life Change Centre. With regard to human-wildlife conflict, she said the ministry has effectively responded to numerous reported incidents in Khomas. These incidents include of baboons, snakes and kudu with rabies straying into the suburbs of the City of Windhoek. “Inspections were carried out on farms around Khomas Region. These inspections are important because they provide basic data needed to grant wildlife utilisation permits, such as for hunting for selling purposes or capturing and movement of live game from one farm to another,” she noted.
2018-06-15 09:16:54 3 months ago