Elephant poachers could be Zambians


Albertina Nakale, New Era

Date Published

Following the latest poaching incident in which four elephants were
poached on Thursday evening at Kasika Conservancy in the Zambezi
Region, preliminary investigations show that the suspects crossed into
Zambia and it is therefore assumed that the perpetrators are of
Zambian origin.

This was revealed yesterday by the spokesman of the Ministry of
Environment and Tourism, Romeo Muyunda, who described the escalation
in poaching as unfortunate.

Of the four poached jumbos at Kasika, east of Katima Mulilo, two are
bulls and two are cows.
Muyunda confirmed that the ministry’s staff members responded to the
incident and found that all the tusks were removed by the poachers.

“So far no arrest has been made, but we are working closely with the
Zambian wildlife authorities in an effort to track and find the
suspects. Further investigations in the case continue,” Muyunda noted.

The ministry appealed to the general public with information that may
lead to the arrest of the suspects or any other suspect of wildlife
crime, to contact the nearest police station or the environment
ministry offices.

“Poaching is robbing us of valuable resources that might be crucial
for our economic development and therefore needs to be stopped as a
matter of urgency,” he stated.

Nampa reported that residents who reside close to the conservancy
heard gunshots and alerted the police.

Despite Cabinet’s 2014 resolution to allow the country’s security
forces to be involved in the fight against poaching and other crimes
threatening wildlife, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has not
roped in such forces yet as is the case with neighbouring Botswana
where its defence force is deployed strategically around that
country’s national parks and shoot poachers on sight.

In 2014, the former Environment and Tourism Minister Uahekua Herunga
had announced that Cabinet had granted permission to allow the
security forces to be involved in the fight against poaching and other
crimes threatening the country’s wildlife.

Of late, the public have been questioning why the Ministry of
Environment and Tourism is not requesting the Namibian Defence Force
(NDF) to avail some soldiers, whom they say are idle in bases, to
national parks to assist with anti-poaching operations.

When approached for comment recently, Muyunda said: “No, we are not
considering the deployment of soldiers at the moment.”

However, he said, the ministry has a good working relationship with
the NDF and other law enforcement agencies such as the Namibian Police
and the Namibia Central Intelligence Services, amongst others, in the
fight against poaching.

When asked on the estimates of the rhino population in Namibia, he
said that unfortunately the ministry cannot give such information,
citing security reasons.

“But from near extinction in the 1960s, Namibia now has the largest
free-ranging population of black rhinos in the world,” he noted.

According to him, Namibia’s elephant population is currently between
20 000 – 25 000, with more than 28 elephants killed this year alone.