Albertina Nakale Windhoek-Due to intensified security presence in the national parks, it has emerged that poachers have now shifted their focus on private farms. This is evident as the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has not recorded any poaching incident so far this year in the national parks where plundering of endangered species such as rhino and elephant was rampant. In an interview with New Era yesterday, the ministry’s spokesperson Romeo Muyunda revealed that so far, they only recorded three cases of rhino poached in the private farms. He said two of the poaching incidents were reported in private farms around the Otjozondjupa region and one case recorded in the Khomas region. “The poaching incidents have reduced because of the intensified security in the national parks. It seems the poachers are now focused on private farms,” he said. Asked what the ministry is doing to help private farmers, Muyunda said they are engaging them in terms of rhino security through various strategies. The latest statistics show that the ministry has recorded three rhinos poached to date compared to 2017 when 32 rhinos were killed, including those in national parks. During 2016, sixty rhinos were killed compared to a whopping 95 animals poached during 2015, while in 2014, the country lost 56 rhinos to poachers. Furthermore, Muyunda shared with New Era the latest statistics on the number of elephants poached. This year, he said one elephant was killed in Bwabwata National Park compared to the 22 poached during 2017, while 101 elephants were killed in 2016. Statistics further revealed that 49 elephants were poached during 2015 and 78 animals were killed in 2014. Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, said this year the ministry wants to further reduce poaching cases by more than 50 percent. “Even though rhino and elephant poaching seem to be decreasing, there is a need to work harder to ensure that the poaching figures are brought to zero. Let us rededicate ourselves to ensuring that fewer rhinos and elephants are poached this year,” he said. Namibia has one of the largest black rhino populations in the world but as in neighbouring South Africa, it is under threat from the lucrative market in rhino horn, especially in Asia. Shifeta said international criminal syndicates are drive poaching and it is a complex phenomenon. In an effort to address this crisis, he said there is a need to recognise that the anti-poaching unit is not dealing with the normal subsistence poaching, as was the case in the past. He explained that rhinos and elephants have become commercialised and there are huge financial incentives for people to get involved and participate in this crime. He commended the anti-poaching team under the leadership of retired Oshana regional police commander Ndahangwapo Kashihakumwa, who was appointed last year as the head of the newly established unit. Equally, he applauded individuals and the private sector entities for coming on board to support government efforts to eliminate the poaching problem. He urged all Namibians who value their wildlife and its protection to join hands with the ministry in this fight.
2018-02-23 09:29:57 7 months ago