German Ambassador to Namibia Christian Schlaga says his government is committed to assisting Namibia in its anti-poaching efforts in terms of infrastructure development.
To date, he said, the German government has availed about N$75 million for the establishment of a Wildlife Protection School near Okakarara.
In an effort to show commitment to the protection of fauna, Namibia will soon open its own school of excellence for wildlife protection training at the Waterberg Plateau Park in Otjozondjupa Region. The centre will train game rangers from across the country.
Namibia has in recent times been rocked by an increase in poaching of endangered species, such as elephant and rhino.
Illegal poaching of rhinos has lately become rife in Etosha National Park, with more than 60 animals hunted and killed by poachers since 2008.
The development of the training academy is already at an advanced stage of construction.
Further, Schlaga said: “It’s not a loan, it’s money that will be used by the ministry without them having to pay it back.”
He noted that the German government is also active in training future park management staff.
The ambassador said they are setting up a campus in Katima Mulilo earmarked for the purpose of training such staff.
The whole idea, he says, is to have intakes from Namibia and neighbouring countries such as Zambia, Botswana, Angola and Zimbabwe to receive training in park management.
“In … Namibia they will also learn how to deal with poaching. This gives the ministry of environment a room to manoeuvre. Poaching is a serious issue, about which I think Namibia is doing a lot, although it’s difficult because the country is huge to protect. It’s a tremendous challenge.”
According to him, the idea of having conservancies is commendable.
Namibia has 82 community conservancies with an abundance of wildlife.
Government has not only trans-located wild animals to those areas but also granted local communities rights of ownership over the natural resources.
He said in order to successfully fight poaching, one has to encompass local people who are on the ground.
“This idea is implemented quite well. Namibia is doing well in managing its wildlife. We also try to market this idea in our country or in context with German visitors. Germans don’t really know how this idea of conservancy works. We try to explain it to them and prevent too much opposition … They [Europeans] just see an animal that is being hunted and they already start to look at it in a different way. But if they understand the idea of a conservancy – that the hunted animals are not the endangered ones, and even if permission is given to hunt one or two from a species that is endangered, one must not cry out loud but take a closer look at it, as some are not in a reproductive cycle anymore or some [cause] havoc,” he explained.