NamPol refutes ‘vexatious’ article on poaching (Namibia)


New Era

Date Published

Windhoek-The Namibian police force is greatly perturbed about an article by Frederico Links in the January 2017 of Insight Magazine, titled, ‘Poaching Exposing Everyone’.

“Apart from the fact the article is vexatious and lacks detail, the claims and assertions contained therein are untrue and unreasonable,” Deputy Inspector-General of Police Operations Major-General James Tjivikua insists.

“The reality is that while an armchair pundit has the laxity of sitting back and assessing an issue from a controlled and ideal atmosphere, officers on the ground and those who are actively involved in dealing with these issues push through serious challenges in an often testing environment to serve this country and protect its wildlife,” said Major-General Tjivikua.

He noted that Namibia holds the second largest rhino population in the world, including the world’s largest population of black rhinoceros.

The world’s largest contiguous elephant population of about 250,000 elephants can be found within the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) with about 16,000 in northeastern Namibia.

Securing the safety of these animals is a huge responsibility, which involves securing an impressive 20 State-run network of Protected Areas (PAs), which covers over 17 percent of the country’s land surface, and porous border areas, Tjivikua noted.

“The proclamation of most protected areas in Namibia predated the emergence of biodiversity conservation science. During the last two decades, Namibia experienced remarkable recovery of all large mammals, including rhinoceros and elephants through commendable and innovative interventions by government, such as the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM),” he noted.

“We are not infallible and we also do not claim to have the best and most watertight system in place, but to label our efforts ‘ungradable cluelessness’ is certainly a fallacy.

“We do not deny the fact that of recent Namibia experienced unprecedented levels of poaching of particularly rhinoceros and elephant species in our national parks.

“We also recognise that wildlife crime in Namibia has reached a new quality of violence and an enhanced frequency of incidences. Well-organised armed gangs enter vulnerable areas, crime syndicates organise the trafficking of horns and tusks through complex networks, leading to foreign markets.

“Yet, the law enforcement agencies are determined and prepared for the task to curb this menace,” the Major-General noted.

He said, faced with severe poaching threats involving international criminal syndicates, NamPol adopted a National Strategy on Wildlife Protection and Law Enforcement for 2016-2020, which is in force.

It entails an undisclosed number of national strategic objectives, strategic approach, community care and engagement, stakeholder engagement and coordination initiatives and activities.

“Hence, we have also deployed quite a number of anti-poaching contingents in the national parks.

“We are also cognisant of the fact that, the Nature Conservation Ordinance, 1975 (No. 4 of 1975) has been under revision and for some time and that the Protected Areas and Wildlife Management Bill urgently needs to be promulgated,” he stressed.

“Importantly, in accordance with the strategic approach, the need to establish a Wildlife Protection Service Division (Anti-Poaching Unit) within the Ministry of Environment and Tourism with the abilities, motivation and dedication that matches or exceeds that of the poachers they are up against and this is to be realised very soon.

“Our efforts in the fight against poaching have been quite the opposite of ‘numb’, as the ill-informed author suggests. Unprecedented resources, manpower and multi-stakeholder efforts have been dedicated to this task, which have resulted in considerable statistical success which has been recorded over the last three consecutive years period,” Tjivikua remarked.

He said in 2014 20 suspects were arrested; in 2015 35 suspects were arrested; in 2016 36 suspects were arrested and so far this year three suspects have been arrested – all on charges of elephant poaching.

In 2014 four suspects were arrested; in 2015 37 suspects were arrested; in 2016 47 suspects were arrested and so far this year two suspects have been arrested for rhino poaching.

“In 2014 there were 41 suspects arrested; 2015 there were 69 arrests, 2016, 69 arrests and so far this year two suspects have been arrested on small game poaching,” he elaborated.

“Does this statistical data display a degree of numbness? The author of this article should have done more research and more consultations regarding the facts surrounding this issue before rushing to publish unconstructive and unconsidered critique.

“Of course the challenges are many, additional skill and resources must be sourced for this fight; corruption and inefficiency should be uprooted to improve efficiency of the officers on the ground and private sector collaboration must be enhanced,” Tjivikua said.