By Confidente Reporter
THIRTY-SEVEN foreign nationals that include 14 Chinese nationals, 13 Zambians and 10 Angolans were arrested in 2016 for committing various wildlife crimes in the country that include poaching and possession of animal products, statistics by the Namibian police say.
Nampol’s head of protected resources division, Deputy Commissioner Bart de Klerk said no Chinese nationals were caught poaching any protected wildlife but four Chinese nationals were found in possession or dealing in pangolin or the animal’s skin, while four were arrested for possession of rhino horns and ivory.
The other six Chinese nationals were arrested for possession of leopard, crocodile and seal skins, Nampol says.
Two Zambians were also last year arrested for dealing in rhino horns as compared to a single Angolan nabbed for the same offence, while eight Zambians were found in possession of elephant tusks as compared to six Angolans nabbed for the same offence.
Two Angolan nationals were also arrested for poaching two elephants and one rhino while two Zambians were nabbed for poaching two rhinos while one was caught for poaching elephants.
Namibia has been battling with poaching over the past few years with wildlife like rhinos, elephants, pangolins, lions and cheetahs falling prey to poachers.
Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta last year told Confidente that his ministry was working on amending the law so that they can also prosecute alleged kingpins who use local poachers.
Most of the kingpins are said to be mostly local businesspeople and Asian nationals.
“There are international syndicates who have people in positions of authority colluding with them to smuggle wildlife products out of Namibia. These syndicates are colluding with former security guys and customs officials in these poaching and smuggling rings. These syndicates entice people in security with bribes. They look for countries with porous security. If you look at it rhino horns or elephant tusks are of no value in Africa. These people create fictitious values for these wildlife products. They put value for them to make money. Africa has no market for horns. The wildlife products are being smuggled from Africa as cargo,” Shifeta said then.
The country since 2015 has reportedly lost over 200 rhinos and elephants to poachers.
The rampant poaching led to the Namibian police in December introducing stop and search operations that saw Chinese nationals also being searched thoroughly at police checkpoints, roadblocks and random stop and search operations.
President Hage Geingob last month also condemned the poaching of the country’s wildlife saying the war against poachers should be intensified.
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