Boots on the ground!
The minister of Environment and Tourism, Uahekua Herunga, revealed this week that environment and wildlife conservation efforts will be bolstered with the involvement of the military and police forces as a special unit within the ministry “Boots on the ground!” Herunga said at the media launch of the 5th International Symposium and Annual Conference of Partners of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism to be held in Windhoek in February next year. This will be the third mega tourism event that Namibia will be hosting. The theme of the event planned for 22-25 February 2015.will be “Advancing Sustainable Tourism to Secure the Legacy of our Cultural and Natural Heritage.”
“We will make sure we look at the legal framework to punish poachers,” Herunga said, who himself confessed to once being a poacher due to the thinking that was created in the formative years of the country due to an imbalance between “conservation, tourism and community development.” Herunga said that now community members like him will see the value of wildlife as equal to that of livestock, promising strict adherence to the law in punishing those who are making measly profits off poaching driven by foreign demand. Herunga said that his ministry will continue to see the effective link between conservation and tourism by empowering the resource user as the best manager of natural resources. He urged local communities to fully participate in tourism. He said, “Without modern techniques tourism can not flourish in this country to benefit communities through the conservation efforts that contribute to tourism activities.” The number of tourist to the country since 1990 grew from 220,000 per year to 1.3 million in the last two years. A growing trend the past 5 years despite world economic trouble during 2008. Namibia also received world acclaim as the best tourist destination to visit in the world by renowned New Your travel magazine. Sem Shikongo, director of Tourism and Gaming in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism said at the event hosted at the Country Club that the hosting of yet another global tourism event shows that the country is recognised as a global giant in the business of tourism and ecological conservation. Shikongo at the same event unveiled the winner of the WWF Adventure in Motion Film Competition where the Pride of Namibia short film won beating six finalists out of 137 entries featuring world class adventure and nature filmmakers.