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Biodiversity conservation tops environment agenda

Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon. Pohamba Shifeta.

Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon. Pohamba Shifeta.

At the law enforcement and wildlife protection stakeholder meeting last week, Hon Pohamba Shifeta, the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism stated that Namibia has made tremendous efforts and has had significant success stories in biodiversity conservation. An extensive network of National Parks was expanded to conserve its globally significant biodiversity hotspots. “National Parks such as Bwabwata, Dorob, Mangetti and Sperrgebiet were proclaimed after independence. These are vital tools for conserving Namibia’s essential biodiversity including endangered species” he said.
The minister stated that the National Rhino Custodianship Programme that was established in 1993 which is aligned with Namibia’s incentive-based conservation paradigm was made to facilitate the recovery of the rhino population while allowing private landowners to become custodians over state-owned rhinos and to benefit through ecotourism.

He explained that strategic translocation of black rhinos have been carried out since the mid 1990s by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism under this programme and that wildlife had been moved from areas of high population density in national parks, and later from communal areas and private reserves, to re-establish former rhino ranges. Consequently, black rhinos now occur in numerous sub-populations from the Orange River all the way to the Kunene. Hon Shifeta stated that by now it had become common knowledge that tourism in general has grown to be one of the most important industries in Namibia in terms of its strong contribution to the Gross Domestic Product, employment creation and the well-being and social upliftment of rural people. He  emphasised that Namibia’s success story comes from its programme for community based conservation of wildlife.
“Our community based Natural Resource Management Programme has helped us to set the scene for a conservation strategy in an independent Namibia. In 1996, the Nature Conservation Ordinance Number 4 of 1975 was amended to allow for the establishment of conservancies in communal areas” the minister stated.
He said “illegal hunting of our elephants and rhinos is one of the challenges that still remains and needs to be addresses urgently. Recently we have noted with great concern the recent activities of poaching of rhinos and the illegal possession of fourteen rhino horns. Given that poaching for ivory and rhino horn is presently occurring in Southern Africa, there is a high probability that attention will shift to Namibia as we have recently experienced. Poaching for ivory is already occurring in the North Eastern Regions of the country, although it has now been contained.”
“For protecting endangered species there are four main areas of capacity and expertise required, namely  the ability to manage the endangered species and species population, secondly the ability to provide and maintain habitat in which species populations can recover and expand, thirdly the ability to protect the species from illegal use and to enforce national and international agreements designed to protect the species and lastly the ability to raise strong public awareness and support for the conservation of the species.” “I am happy that wildlife experts, magistrates, prosecutors, lawyers, police officers, members of the Namibia Defence Force, intelligence experts, customs officials, immigration officials and many other experts are gathered here to deliberate on this matter. We need to stop this illegal killing of our wildlife now” he stressed.

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