N$60 000 for whistle-blowers
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has offered an award of N$60 000 to people with information that can lead to the arrest of wildlife poachers in the country.
Highlighting that only seven rhinos and six elephants were poached in the first two months of this year, as per information provided by the Namibian Police, the Minster of Tourism, Hon. Pohamba Shifeta said poaching of wildlife is a syndicate-based activity.
Shifeta said this type of illegal hunting involves foreigners who are well-linked to middlemen in the country, who in turn use local community members to poach as they have good knowledge of the areas.
“As in any criminal set-up, it is difficult to pin-point those involved until the syndicates are well understood and their modus operandi exposed. We remain committed and we will ensure that these criminals are caught, but most importantly ensure that wildlife crime is prevented,” he said at a press conference of the Ministry’s reflection on poaching incidents for 2016.
The Ministry uses aerial, vehicle and foot patrols to find carcasses that are not detected. By air, the Ministry uses choppers, which are more expensive than drones because “the usage of drones will tamper with the public’s privacy as CCTV cameras in areas where poaching takes place would mean invading someone’s privacy,” Shifeta said. Etosha National Park, which is the hub of local tourism and state-owned National Wildlife Resorts (NWR)’s biggest resort is targeted the most by poaching kingpins. All six of the camps/resorts within the Etosha National Park received an average of 60% total occupancy in comparison to 2014 where they received just about 40%.
In their bid to improve operational strategies and order for effective and efficient implementation of their anti-poaching activities, the Ministry will build additional fencing around the Etosha National Park. The government has an estimated amount of N$20 million set out in its development budget book 2016/17 for fencing of conservation areas, with the objective to separate park borders, reduce human-wildlife conflicts, strengthen law enforcement and curb illegal access to protected areas.
The project started on the 1st of April 2003 and will run until 31 March 2018, with an estimate of N$27 million. However, the 2015/16 financial year did not see any activities completed, the reason being, “funds could not be utilized due to delay experienced in tender process.”
Budget documents show that there is expectation for the continuation of construction for the elephant and predator proof fence at Etosha National park, Dorob National park and in the Omaheke (Eiseb) during this Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).