Windhoek — In its quest to bring poaching under control, government has deployed drones in strategic areas of the country’s forests to track down poachers and protect endangered wildlife.
New Era learnt that three unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, are hovering in the skies above national parks to detect any poaching. Drones used for conservation purposes cost around N$300 000 each.
Government is working closely with the World Wildlife Fund for technical assistance to help park rangers learn how to fly the drones.
Apart from confirming that drones are being used to protect wildlife, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism refused to divulge further information regarding the operations of the technological driven devices.
“I can confirm that we are employing the use of drones in our quest to control poaching of endangered species like rhinos in the country,” ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda told New Era.
“However due to security purposes I cannot divulge any further details.”
The devices are said to fly quietly above land not to disturb the animals on the ground.
According to Muyunda the ministry will also continuously strengthen its efforts in effective crime prevention and law enforcement through coordination and integration of clusters of activities such as planning, monitoring and adaptive management.
Other measures are a strong and effective presence on the ground; dedicated investigation units that focus on criminal syndicates and organised crime; collaboration with the police, army, judiciary, intelligence services, communities, farmers, and training and retraining of staff.
Cabinet earlier this year approved a request by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to allow the country’s security forces to be involved in the fight against poaching and other crimes threatening the country’s wildlife.
Environment and Tourism Minister, Uahekua Herunga, at the time told New Era that security forces would patrol poaching-prone regions such as Kavango East, Zambezi, Kunene and Erongo.
The minister tore into Namibians who are being used by foreigners to divulge information used by poachers during their illegal activities.
“As a Namibian it is very worrying to know that our own people are being used by poachers to pass information on where the wildlife is. What is even more worrying is the fact that there is no ivory market in Namibia, yet our people continue to put our wildlife at risk,” said Herunga at the time.
The illegal wildlife trade is worth more than N$120 billion annually, with one rhino horn fetching as much as N$2 million on the black market.
Namibia has recorded 123 cases of elephant poaching in national parks between 2005 to May this year with tusks weighing close to 1910.20 kg confiscated.