K9 unit highlights major success in anti-poaching drive


Namibian Broadcasting Corporation

Date Published
Namibian law enforcement arrested 121 suspected poachers in three months inside the Etosha National Park with the help of the newly-established anti-poaching K9 unit, the police have said on Wednesday.
Namibian Police Force (NAMPOL) commander of the anti-poaching operation unit in the park Chief Inspector George Shitana told journalists during a visit that the record number of arrests were made between August and October this year.
He said the unit was launched in 2018, however, the dogs had to undergo training and were only located to the park mid-2019.
The dogs which were bought for N$65 000 each, can detect firearms, ammunition and wildlife products with the focus on rhino and ivory horns, as well as pangolin skin.
“The situation is now under control, no-poaching of rhino horns or elephant tusks so far because most of the trouble makers are behind bars. So far, poachers resort to illegal hunting for meat,” he said.
Shitana noted that the most affected areas are in Etosha west in Otjenova, Onamatanga, Uutsathima, Amarika and Okakewa villages.
The Chief Inspector also noted that to further strengthen efforts in poaching, the force will seek permission from traditional leaders of the affected villages to do an awareness campaign on issues related to poaching and handling firearms.
On his part Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT), Pohamba Shifeta, said the introduction of the five specially trained German Shepherds from Hollard has led to major successes in the fight against poaching.
He also said there is a need to knit a close working relationship between the security forces, the justice delivery system, ministerial staffs as well as traditional leaders to find a long-lasting solution in dealing with poaching.
“There a serious need for us to find a way of dealing with second-time offenders on poaching when it comes to bail conditions. It cannot be right that someone is arrested for poaching and they get bail then after being released, the person commits the same crime,” Shifeta said.
The ministry, he further said is busy securing 12 horses and four more dogs to the unit to strengthen the unit given the vastness of the park which covers 22 270 square kilometres.