ENVIRONMENT Minister Pohamba Shifeta last week revealed that 210 rhinos were poached from 2014 to 2016, with 228 elephants were killed, adding that alarmingly elephant poaching is on the increase.
He made the revelation in the National Assembly when he was answering questions posed by Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) Member of Parliament, Mike Kavekotora.
The Minister said that 56 rhinos were illegally killed in 2014, 95 were poached in 2015, while 59 suffered the same fate in 2016.
Shifeta also revealed that 228 elephants were poached three years ago. In 2014, 78 were poached; 49 in 2015 and 101 last year. Only one elephant has so far been poached this year; however the minister did not say if the mammoth animals were killed in protected areas such as Etosha National Park.
He further revealed that 226 cases of poaching, possession of rhino horns and elephant tasks had been opened with the police by the ministry during the same period.
To date 231 suspects have been arrested in connection with poaching, of which 45 accused are foreign nationals. Shifeta said that the number could be higher; however, the determination of nationalities could be difficult to prove as some have dual citizenships.
He added that the correct citizenship of 75 other accused persons is yet to be determined.
According to statistics from Namibian police’s department of protected resources, released last month, it was reported that 14 Chinese nationals, 13 Zam¬bians and 10 Angolans were arrested in 2016 for committing various wildlife crimes in the country that include poaching and possession of animal products.
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 more were arrested for possession of rhino horns and ivory. The other six Chinese nationals were ar-rested for possession of leopard, crocodile and seal skins, Nampol said.
Two Zambians were also last year arrested for dealing in rhino horns and one Angolan was nabbed for the same offence, while eight Zambians were found in posses¬sion of elephant tusks as compared to six An¬golans nabbed for the same offence.
Two Angolan nationals were also arrested for poaching two elephants and one rhino while two Zambians were nabbed for poach¬ing two rhinos while one was caught for poaching elephants.
Namibia has been battling with poaching over the past few years with wildlife like rhi¬nos, elephants, pangolins, lions and cheetahs falling prey to poachers.
Pohamba Shifeta last month table an amendment on the Nature Conservation Bill where the fine for elephant and rhino poaching would increase from the current maximum of N$200 000 to N$25 million, and the period of imprisonment from the current 20 to 25 years.
The ministry also proposes increasing the fine related to poaching of all protected species from the current maximum of N$20 000 to N$10 million, and the imprisonment period from five to 10 years.
Last year Shifeta told Confidente that most of the poaching kingpins are said to be mostly local businesspeople working with Asian nationals.
“There are international syndicates who have people in positions of authority collud¬ing with them to smuggle wildlife products out of Namibia. These syndicates are collud¬ing with former security guys and customs officials in these poaching and smuggling rings. These syndicates entice people in secu¬rity 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.
Contributing to the debate on Nature Conservation Amendment Bill, on Wednesday, Information minister Tjekero Tweya discouraged Namibians from poaching or being used by foreigners or elites to kill protected species.
“We should not go for quick gain. Our people should not go for cheap labour,” he said, adding that game is being used as a lucrative business by highly organised criminal networks that are feeding an insatiable demand for ivory and rhino horns around the world.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015