120 poachers arrested last year
The tourism ministry recorded a total of 57 rhinos and 26 elephants that were poached in 2018.
This led to the arrest of 120 suspected poachers during the same period, tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta said, adding that only one incident of rhino poaching has been recorded this year, so far.
“The joint uniformed forces have managed to even arrest some of the suspected poachers before they could even try to poach and that is a great achievement. We have learnt throughout our operations that some of the suspects are the ones that have already been arrested before for wildlife crime.”
“These suspects are in and out of jail like they did nothing while they are busy breaking the back bone of our economy. That is why were are busy engaging the judiciary as well as the police to have the suspects denied bail. We are also in the process of identifying, together with the judiciary, what will be the best way to go about it,” he said.
Shifeta also said that the suspected poachers also called the ‘handlers’ are also making use of unemployed youth based on farms in areas where poachers frequent.
“They train them how to shoot and since these youths are unemployed they have the advantage of manipulating them and tricking them to be a part of wildlife crime. We have confiscated ammunition, rifles and even AK 47’s from poachers who were arrested.”
“These handlers can go as far as opening up fake shops in areas where these protected animals are found. We are aware of the situation and sooner or later the law will catch up with them. They use these so-called shops just as a cover-ups.”
The ministry has called for harsher sentencing of poachers.
“We are conducting workshops with public prosecutors as well as presiding officers to make sure that we put an end to poaching by making use of tools that are in place for us, such as long-term sentencing of poachers.”
The ministry is also working with communities on combating poaching the minister said, adding that they are now aware of the dangers posed by poachers.
“They understand that we need to preserve these animals and that we need to keep them alive for future generations to also see them. They work in collaboration with our uniformed officers to apprehend suspected poachers. It is my singular honor to thank them through you the media,” he said.
The ministry recorded that most rhinos were poached at rhino custodian farms and private farms, while national parks recorded zero rhino poaching.