By Albertina Nakale
WINDHOEK– The Ministry of Environment and Tourism officials in the Kavango East Region over the weekend confiscated six elephant tusks suspected to have been poached in the Bwabwata National Park.
A game warden in Kavango East, who refused to be named, said six poachers have since Friday been arrested in connection with the incident.
He said during the arrest, they also seized elephant and dried monkey meat.
He could however not determine the weight of both the tusks and the game meat that was confiscated.
In an unrelated matter, poachers also killed four black rhinos and wounded three others in the Uukwaluudhi Conservancy in the Omusati Region on Thursday. The four killed brings the total number of rhinos poached to 10 since January this year alone.
No arrest has been made in this regard.
Chief Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism Romeo Muyunda confirmed the confiscation of the six elephant tusks, but he could not confirm the arrest and the seizure of dried meat.
“Our team is still in the field trying to investigate the issue. We have suspects but they were not yet arrested,” said Muyunda.
Namibia recorded 123 cases of elephant poaching in national parks between 2005 to date, with 222 tusks weighing about 1 910 kg confiscated. In total, the poached elephants resulted in monetary losses exceeding N$1,3 million. An estimated number of 105 people in possession of elephant tusks were arrested between 2005 and 2013. While from 2005 to date, 11 cases of rhino poaching were recorded. Of the poached rhinos, 18 horns weighing 14,3 kg valued at N$599 532 were confiscated and nine suspects were arrested.
The economic loss from poaching of elephants in 2012 in national parks amounted to N$3,8 million. The losses accrued from Bwabwata, Madumu and Nkasa Rupara national parks where in total 28 elephants were poached. About N$2,2 million was lost through 142 elephants poached in conservancies in 2012.
However, the Namibian elephant population has virtually quadrupled over the last 20 years to over 20 000.
When asked what measures has the ministry taken to bring the escalating cases of illegal poaching under control, Muyunda said they recently held a law enforcement and wildlife protection stakeholders’ meeting highlighting the levels of illegal killing of wildlife in the country.
“During the meeting, we came up with possible solutions to try and curb the situation,” he noted.
He however refused to divulge such possible solution, saying “it’s a security issue.”
Muyunda said other measures involve community members in areas where illegal poaching is rife to help bring those responsible to book.
Elephants and rhinos are regarded as endangered species.