‘Foot soldiers’ needed for anti-poaching (Namibia)


Albertina Nakale, New Era

Date Published

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The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has announced that it has obtained approval to establish the wildlife protection services or anti-poaching unit that will comprise 495 staff members.

Although the ministry has started the recruitment process of mainly top management, it still needs to fill crucial positions of footsoldiers, such as game rangers and wardens.

Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said staff will undergo training at the anti-poaching unit facility: “We will also use this training facility for the recruitment of wardens, rangers and assistant rangers, as they have to go through some practical and theoretical selection processes so that we get the right staff for the job.”

The minister made the remarks during the inauguration of the ministry’s multimillion dollar law enforcement training centre in Waterberg Plateau Park in the Otjozondjupa on Friday.

The ministry, with co-financing from the protected areas system strengthening project, constructed the law enforcement training centre in Waterberg at a cost of N$6 million.
Shifeta said the process of recruiting wardens, rangers and assistant rangers is critical for improving the overall quality of the candidates that proceed to basic training and provides an important opportunity for strengthening the performance of an area’s warden, ranger, and assistant ranger force over the long term.

In contrast, ineffective recruitment, resulting in the appointment of inappropriate candidates, he says, is not only a missed opportunity for reinforcing the area’s ranger force, but can also lead to poor performance, interpersonal difficulties and low morale and motivation.

Therefore, he noted appropriate staff will be recruited for anti-poaching activities at this training centre.

The Game Products Trust Fund (GPTF) also availed funds for the furniture and equipment required at the training centre.

The construction of the centre was necessitated by the need to enhance law enforcement capacity for the ministry’s law enforcement officials, as well as other law enforcement agencies, such as the police; the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Justice, particularly in response to increasing wildlife crime.

The aim is to ensure that Namibia has capacity to deal with wildlife crime. He said unprecedented levels of elephant and rhino poaching across Africa and Namibia are no exception and threaten the future of many species and the ecosystems they inhabit.
He said the situation demands full implementation of Namibia’s current strategies and measures to curb illegal hunting.

“Wildlife trafficking has become a million dollar criminal enterprise that has expanded to more than just a conservation concern. The increasing involvement of organised crime in poaching and wildlife trafficking promotes corruption, threatens peace, strengthens illicit trade routes, destabilises economies and communities that depend on wildlife for their livelihoods,” Shifeta maintained.

Some of the aspects of training that will be conducted at the training centre as far as anti-poaching activities are concerned, will include principles of anti-poaching operations, aim of patrols, and sketch planning, navigation, crime scene handling, investigation tactics, intelligence gathering, wildlife laws, handling, maintenance, storage and the management of firearms and ammunition.

The training centre will also be used for other wildlife management and protected area management training.