Gloves off against poachers (Namibia)


Editorial, New Era

Date Published

There is a new impetus in the poaching of rhino, elephant, pangolin and other wildlife that could strip Africa of the resources bequeathed to us.

One of Africa’s gifts from God – its fauna – that generates millions if not billions of dollars is under siege from this resurgence in wildlife poaching.

On a weekly if not daily basis the media is abound with news of poachers caught red-handed with elephant tusks, rhino horns, leopard skins or live pangolins.

The latest incident involves the seizure of thirteen elephant tusks in the dead of night at a village in Bwabwata National Park in Kavango East.

From this single incident somewhere in the African bush either in Angola or Namibia seven elephants were slaughtered by poachers out to make a quick buck.

The new breed of poachers are extremely greedy and do not give a heck whether Africa’s elephants, lions or rhinos are wiped from the face of the earth.

Theirs is the work of a well-organised syndicate teaming rogue game rangers, rogue cops, corrupt airport security officials on the payroll of a global Mafia-like criminal enterprise with its HQ in Asia.

Just for the record, late last year a Chinese suspect strolled undetected through ‘aviation security’ at Hosea Kutako International Airport with suitcases containing 14 rhino horns and several leopard skins.

Poaching rhino is attributed to the thriving rhino horn market in Asia where it sells for about US$100 000, the equivalent of N$1.5 million dollars per kilogramme.

Chinese and Vietnamese use rhino horn powder in their traditional medicine. Experts insist this is merely an urban myth with no scientific basis whatsoever.

Botswana like its neighbours was once a playground for poachers but no more because of its controversial shoot-to-kill policy involving members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).
We are cognisant of the fact our government has invested heavily in human resources by establishing anti-poaching units to assist the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to remedy this menace.

In the absence of war, Namibian Defence Force (NDF) soldiers could receive anti-poaching training and redeployed around the country’s game reserves.

More drones could also be procured to patrol the skies around our game reserves. Efforts on rural community tourism development should be redoubled as tourism is highly beneficial and also creates direct and indirect income and jobs for all communities.

The fight against poaching can only be won if we say enough is enough and take off our gloves. Poachers should not be allowed to hijack this resource that has massive economic potential to turn around the economy. They deserve heavy, stiffer sentences.