No armed forces deployed in anti-poaching patrols yet–MET (Namibia)


Albertina Nakale, New Era

Date Published

Despite Cabinet’s 2014 resolution to allow the country’s security
forces to be involved in the fight against poaching and other crimes
threatening the country’s wildlife, the Ministry of Environment and
Tourism (MET) has not roped in any armed forces yet.

In 2014, the then MET minister Uahekua Herunga had announced that
Cabinet had granted permission to allow the country’s security forces
to be involved in the fight against poaching and other wildlife

Of late, the public have been questioning why MET is not requesting
the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) to avail some soldiers – whom they
say are idle – in national parks to assist with anti-poaching
activities as done in neighbouring Botswana.

When approached for comment yesterday the ministry’s spokesperson,
Romeo Muyunda, said: “No, we are not considering the deployment of
soldiers at the moment.”

However, he said the ministry has a good working relationship with the
NDF and law enforcement agencies such as the Namibian Police and
Namibia Central Intelligence Services, among others, in the fight
against poaching.

Asked on the estimates of the rhino population in Namibia, he said
that unfortunately the ministry cannot give such information for
security reasons.

“But from near extinction in the 1960s, Namibia now has the largest
free-ranging population of black rhinos in the world,” he noted.

According to him, Namibia’s elephant population is currently between
20 000 – 25 000.

Asked on how many rhinos (black and white) and elephants have been
poached, Muyunda said 16 rhinos and 28 elephants were killed this year

Regarding drone patrols he said the unmanned aerial vehicle industry
in Namibia is in a limbo because of the absence of clear laws
surrounding the operation of drones in the country.

There is currently no information on foreign nationals visiting
Namibia who wish to bring drones into the country for use during their
holidays, such as viewing birds nesting in normally inaccessible
locations, closely observing wildlife without disrupting their natural
activities or photographing the Namibian landscape from above.

When asked how far this process is and can visitors bring drones into
the country for such purposes, he said the ministry currently
regulates filming in national parks and protected areas.

“However, we do not allow the use of drones unless the request is
submitted in advance for the ministry’s consideration,” he said.
Moreover, Muyunda stated the ministry employs a number of strategies
to fight poaching and the use of specific techniques and technology is
one of the approaches.

“However, we cannot divulge any further details as to which techniques
we are using as it might have implications for our security and
anti-poaching efforts,” he said.