Elephant poaching suspects still at large (Namibia)


John Muyamba, New Era 

Date Published

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The suspected poachers who shot an elephant on Tuesday afternoon between Ntara village and Manyondo village on the border of the Mbunza and Ukwangali traditional authorities east of Ntara village in Kavango West Region are still at large.

“We still have not arrested any of the suspects who gunned down the elephant. We’re still investigating, but so far no arrest has been made,” Detective Chief Inspector Niclaus Kupembona of the Namibian Police in Kavango West Region confirmed.
On Tuesday morning environment and tourism officials were alerted to a report that an elephant charged and chased a man to his homestead at Manyondo village on Monday. Luckily the victim escaped unhurt, but he was highly traumatised. The rogue elephant was found dead on Tuesday near the village where the villager had a close encounter with it. It had been shot dead. “I sent a team to Manyondo village to go assess and verify the report received from the community. Yes, the team came and confirmed that indeed the elephant chased someone right through to his homestead. I instructed the team that they should track the elephant and see what it is doing.
“With that I received a report from my staff that there were some footprints following the elephant and I further asked them to get another team to assist,” said the Ministry of Environment and Tourism’s deputy director for the northeastern regions, Apollinaris Kanyinga, who happened to be at the scene on Tuesday afternoon.
“Further communications from the colleagues on the ground revealed that they found the elephant had been shot dead illegally after they heard several gunshots in the area. We then reported the case to the police as per normal procedure,” Kanyinga added. According to Kanyinga, this was an illegal hunt of an elephant and it has nothing to do with Monday’s human-wildlife conflict incident.
“This is the initial assessment. I think the intention was to remove the tusks. We have got some positive leads that we are pursuing and I think by the end ofWednesday we will have the suspects, so my appeal is for people to assist the law enforcement to come up with information regarding the illegal hunt of the elephant,” he said. After environment and tourism officials heard gunshots they got closer to the source of the gunshots and they heard people, but when they got closer to the carcass – which was already covered with bushes – they found that skinning had already started.
The poachers had already cut off the tip of the tail, the trunk and one could see that they worked fast and ran shortly after hearing the officials were closing in on them. “What I can say to the residents of the region is that government is equally looking for solutions concerning human-wildlife conflict. Everything is being done to rescue the situation. Some sectors have been crying that elephants must be shot down, but that is not the way to go.
“These elephants are for all of us and we need to collaborate with all stakeholders, so as to find a common approach to these elephants around us, as there are benefits to it as well, so I would like to discourage the call from certain quarters that are saying elephants should be shot. But this (killing of the elephant) today is a pure case of poaching,” Kanyinga said.
The elephant’s meat has already been shared amongst the subjects of Mbunza leader Hompa Alfons Kaundu and the Ukwangali Chief Eugene Kudumo.