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More needs to be done to protect wildlife – National Report on Wildlife Protection and Law Enforcement

More needs to be done to protect wildlife – National Report on Wildlife Protection and Law Enforcement

The country’s anti-poaching and crime prevention initiatives managed to arrest 75 suspects in 106 cases related to rhino poaching in Namibia in 2022, a report released last week noted.

The year 2022 saw the most rhinos poached in the country since 2015 when the first major poaching wave in independent Namibia peaked, the National Report on Wildlife Protection and Law Enforcement in Namibia revealed.

The released report is based on data compiled via the Integrated Database of Wildlife Crime in Namibia, as well as related firsthand information and observations by personnel from the Blue Rhino Task Team, Ministry of Environment Forestry and Tourism, Namibia Police, and the Office of the Prosecutor General

The report noted that the number of rhinos known to have been poached in Namibia during 2022 increased by 97.9% from 2021, reaching the highest losses since 2015.

“We need to do more to protect our wildlife. Anti-poaching and crime prevention initiatives form the front line for our rhino ranges. Our premier park, Etosha, was particularly hard hit during 2022,” the report noted, adding that to counter the unprecedented threat of ongoing, highly organized poaching of high-value species, the Namibian Defence Force continues to play a unique role within its mandate of defending the state and its resources against threats.

According to the report, rhinos are of course not the only resources being targeted.

“Elephant ivory and Pangolin products continue to be trafficked, and we are experiencing an expansion in the criminal onslaught into new sectors, such as trafficking of our rare and endemic plants. In all, 693 suspects were arrested in 430 wildlife cases in 2022. Meat poaching continues to make up around half of all registered cases,” the report added.

According to the report, while crime prevention is the ultimate goal, the prosecution of suspects, leading to appropriate sentences for perpetrators, is the immediate aim of law enforcement in response to crimes that have been committed.

The report meanwhile noted that the finalization of rhino cases remains frustratingly low.

“Only four rhino cases were finalized during the past year. To compound matters, suspects released on bail in drawn-out rhino trials have been re-arrested in new cases, the report further stated.

On the positive side, the report said the sentence passed in one prominent rhino-poaching case finalized in 2022 is highly commendable, making a loud and clear statement that wildlife crime will not be tolerated, regardless of whether it is perpetrated by influential individuals or the rural poor.

Meanwhile, in April this year, Namibian authorities arrested eight suspects in connection with rhino poaching incidents in the country’s flagship Etosha National Park and surrounding areas.


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