Poaching not yet a matter of concern: Sikopo

WINDHOEK; The Director of Parks and Wildlife Management in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), Colgar Sikopo says poaching in Namibia is not yet a matter of concern and is “under control”.

He was speaking during a media conference held at the MET headquarters here on Wednesday.

Sikopo confirmed that a total of 30 elephants were poached in the north-western parts of the country during the past nine months.

“In October and November this year, no new cases of poaching were reported. This shows that we have put strategies in place, but we need to find ways to stop it,” he noted.

The MET, the Namibian Police Force (NamPol), the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) and members of various conservancies work together to fight poaching in the country.

Sikopo said he is confident that recent local and international reports about the increase of poaching in Namibia would have little or no effect on the Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS), scheduled to take place here from 26 to 31 October 2013.

He told Nampa in a telephonic interview some two months ago that only 18 elephant carcasses had been found in the Caprivi Region since the beginning of this year.

He could not confirm whether these carcasses were found with or without any tusks, but described the issue as “sensitive”.

Local reports, however, had it that the animals were killed for their ivory. Of the 18 elephants, 13 were reportedly killed in the Mamili National Park over a period of just four months.

Three Namibians and one foreign national were arrested in connection with the find. They subsequently appeared in court, and were released on bail of N.dollars 5 000 each. Inspector Albius Liomba of the Katima Mulilo Police Station confirmed on Wednesday that the alleged suspects made another appearance in court today, and their case was postponed to 22 January next year.

In stark contrast to neighbouring South Africa where poaching has skyrocketed this year, Namibia has the lowest poaching numbers in Africa, a media statement released by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) in November this year said.

WWF’s African Rhino programme leader, Dr Joseph Okori was quoted as saying that ‘tens of thousands of elephants and hundreds of rhinos’ have been killed in Africa this year.

Okori pointed out that in Namibia, there is an effective information system which is reliant on cooperation with local populations, and also a well-developed local management scheme which results in the lowest poaching numbers in Africa. Similar ideas have begun to spread to Botswana, South Africa and Zambia.

He added that to reverse escalating poaching and to stop the illegal trade of things such as elephant tusks, a range of measures are required.

These include that demand in consumer countries would have to decrease sharply, and that world leaders must acknowledge wildlife tracking as a serious crime.