Namibia: Elephant Poached in Bwabwata


New Era

Date Published
An elephant was found dead at Muit’jiku village of Kavango East in the Buffalo core area of Bwabwata West last Friday.
Muit’jiku is located in Bwabwata West National Park in Mukwe Constituency in Kavango East.
The elephant carcass was allegedly found by villagers who then informed the police at Divundu.
It was discovered on Friday morning at about 06h00 and was believed to have been poached. An initial police investigation found two gunshot entry and exit wounds in the carcass which made investigators suspect it was illegally shot.
The elephant had its tusks intact as the poachers appear to have hurriedly left the scene of the poaching after they were suspectedly disturbed.
According to the Namibian Police in Kavango East no arrest was yet made but further investigations were underway.
“A case of hunting special protected game was opened on Saturday at the Divundu police station and we are investigating the case,” said police spokesperson in Kavango East, Detective Chief Inspector Ewald Kavara.
There was also another report from the north of a case of elephant poaching but environmental officials could not be reached for confirmation, because they were apparently on Easter holiday.
The trophy value of the poached elephant is N$500 000. The elepant meat was given to the villagers as it always happens in such cases as many villagers regard jumbo meat as a delicacy.
Namibia has in recent years seen an upsurge in elephant and rhino poaching prompting the government to deploy teams of Namibian Defence Force (NDF) soldiers in the worst affected parks, besides drones mounted with surveillance cameras.
Last year alone 33 elephants were poached in Bwabwata, Mudumu and Nkasa Rupara national parks while by September at least 10 endangered black rhinos were poached.
Namibia has at least 25 000 resident elephants on top of the migrant population that runs into thousands, and 1 750 black rhinos.
Rhino horns are usually smuggled to East Asia, where they can fetch as much as US$95 000 a kilogramme and are believed to cure cancer and improve a person’s libido.
Meanwhile, the new Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta says he will not allow the escalating poaching to continue and vowed to apply and implement a zero-tolerance approach in dealing with the crime.
He warned that the increasing scale and sophistication of poaching activities is a worrying trend and a very serious threat to the tourism sector, the country’s international reputation and the Namibian economy at large.
“Anti-poaching departments should be modelled with the mobility of proactive and aggressive staff to drive poaching out of the country, and with that I order the honeymoon of poachers should be stopped.
I will apply and implement a zero-tolerance approach when dealing with this threat and priotise on the reduction and elimination of poaching,” he said.
Pohamba issued the stern warning last Thursday during the ministry’s first meeting of the year with staff and associates, at the same time introducing the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Tommy Nambahu.
He further said there is an urgent need to establish and operationalise the anti-poaching department so that it can be strengthened, and cooperate with relevant partners such as the army, the police and communities on the ground when dealing with poaching.
With regard to staff members, Shifeta strongly warned those taking their jobs for granted to be aware they will soon be rotated to improve efficience.
“I am aware that some of you have become too comfortable and complacent at your stations and no longer innovative. I will not hesitate to give instructions to staff members to be rotated in order to improve efficiency – especially to patrol officers and in cases where there are repeated incidences of poaching,” he cautioned.
He further highlighted infrastructural issues stating that a priority should be the upgrading of infrastructure in protected areas to world class standard, citing the fencing off of Etosha National Park that is supposed to be completed.
“By doing that we can prevent poaching and minimize human-wildlife conflicts,” he stated.