WINDHOEK: A total of 18 elephant carcasses have been found in the Caprivi Region since the beginning of this year.
The Director of Parks and Wildlife Management in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) Colgar Shikopo told Nampa in an interview on Tuesday that investigations on the discoveries are ongoing.
He would not confirm whether the carcasses were found with or without any tusks, describing it as a “sensitive issue”.
“I cannot disclose any information right now due to the sensitivity of the case, which is with the Namibian Police,” he said.
Shikopo dismissed local media reports that 80 elephants have been killed so far this year. Meanwhile, Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) Director Julian Fennessy told Nampa that the number of elephant carcasses found in the Caprivi Region is low compared to other African countries.
He dismissed reports that elephant poaching is on the rise in Namibia.
“MET is working closely with conservancies with all eyes and ears on the ground to detect poaching. The numbers of poaching in Namibia is extremely low compare to other countries because of good governance in the country,” he stressed.
The poaching of elephants for tusks, meat, hide, calves and medicinal products is a major conservation issue.
Elephant poaching levels are the worst they have been at in the past decade and recorded ivory seizures are at their highest levels since 1989, according to a report published by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in June this year.
The report titled ‘Elephant Conservation, Illegal Killing and Ivory Trade,’ indicated that three of the five years in which the greatest volumes of ivory were seized globally were 2009, 2010 and 2011.
In 2011 alone, there were 14 large-scale ivory seizures, which represents the first double-digit figure in 23 years.
The seizures were an estimated 24,3 tonnes of ivory, more than in any previous year.
The sources of information have shown a very close correspondence between trends in elephant poaching and trends in large-scale ivory seizures, detecting essentially the same patterns at different points in the illegal ivory trade chain, accoding to CITES.
Large-scale ivory seizures – those involving more than 800 kilogrammes of ivory in a single transaction – typically indicate the participation of organised crime.
Most of the ivory smuggling containers leave Africa through Indian Ocean seaports on the continent’s eastern coastline, primarily from Kenya and Tanzania, with China and Thailand the two primary destinations for illegal ivory consignments from Africa.
Some African and Asian countries have made significant efforts to enhance enforcement, CITES noted. For example, China earlier this year conducted a major operation which resulted in the seizure of more than 1,366 kilogrammes of ivory, and the arrest of 13 suspects.
CITES said the critical situation in Africa demonstrates the urgent need to implement the African Elephant Action Plan, which was created by all African elephant range States under the auspices of CITES in 2010.