The Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (Nacso) is gravely concerned about the poaching of rhino in Uukwaluudhi Conservancy. It says poaching is stealing from the community. Recently poachers killed four black rhino and wounded three others in the conservancy in Omusati Region, the latest in a poaching upsurge in Namibia.
The four killed brought the total number of rhino poached to 10 since January this year. No arrest had yet been made in this regard. But a number of people were arrested in recent months for crimes related to poaching and trafficking of animal parts.
Last week twelve men were arrested in possession of eight elephant tusks, dried game meat and a pangolin skin. They were granted bail ranging between N$2 000 and N$ 3000 each in the Mukwe Periodical Court.
The men were arrested in the areas of Divundu and Ndiyona in Kavango East. Cabinet has approved a request by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to allow security forces to be involved in the fight against poaching and other crimes threatening the country’s wildlife.
“The loss of our valuable wildlife directly affects the livelihoods of rural Namibians, the tourism industry and our economy as a whole. All Namibian citizens can actively contribute to reducing wildlife crime by reporting any suspicious activities,” said Steve Felton of Nacso.
Felton says Nacso is fully aware of the seriousness of the poaching threat facing the country and is working closely with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to provide any possible support that can assist in the fight against wildlife crimes.
“The recent case demonstrates that wildlife crime syndicates are now fully active in Namibia. Such poaching in remote areas cannot take place without some local knowledge. Communal conservancies are in a position to work actively with their members to minimise such involvement and ensure reporting of suspicious activities,” he said.
Nacso member organisations are supporting conservancies in this regard.
Further, he explained that Nacso continues to support the work of community game guards through a number of initiatives that further improve monitoring of valuable species and help to combat poaching. He urged the judiciary to take such crimes seriously to give clear signals that such syndicates are considered completely “unacceptable in this country and will be swiftly and harshly dealt with”.
The media also has a direct responsibility in helping to protect “our national heritage and valuable wildlife through responsible reporting,” Felton said.
He said while the public should always be informed about incidents of national concern, divulging details of a case as it is being uncovered can compromise investigations and may reduce the effectiveness of law enforcement.
However, he is optimistic that the active collaboration between the environment ministry, the Protected Resources Unit of the Namibian Police, Nacso and its members (which include Save the Rhino Trust, the Legal Assistance Centre and IRDNC), communal conservancies and local communities “can create a force that can stop the poaching of our rhinos and elephants”.