Rhino poaching: five arrests in three regions

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Windhoek

The police arrested five people in three different regions on Saturday for poaching rhino horns and elephant tusks.
One elderly man was arrested in Kavango East for possession of elephant tusks, while two men were arrested in Opuwo for possession of rhino horns.

A further two suspects were arrested in Khomas Region on suspicion of poaching rhinos, the police said yesterday.
All five are expected to appear in court today. Four will be brought before the Katutura Magistrate’s Court, while one will be brought before the Rundu Magistrate’s Court, Deputy Police Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi confirmed yesterday.

He said on Saturday at around 05h00 at Mwitjiku Village, a 54-year-old Namibian man from Kavango East was arrested when he was found in possession of two elephant tusks.

Kanguatjivi further said as a result of a joint operation of the Protected Resources Division and the Police Crime Division – two men were arrested in possession of two rhino horns.

As a result of the police operation in Windhoek, two more people were arrested in the Kunene.
The four poaching suspects, two from Windhoek and two from Kunene, will appear together in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court this week.

The latest arrests bring to eight the number of people arrested this year in connection with poaching, or being found in possession of rhino horns and elephant tusks.

Last year 22 people were arrested for poaching, or being in possession of rhino horns and elephant tusks, according to police statistics.
Earlier this month, head of the police public relations division Chief Inspector Kauna Shikwambi said 34 poached rhino carcasses were discovered this year through aerial and foot patrols in the Etosha National Park and Palmwag/Klip River areas of the Kunene Region.
Twenty-nine carcasses were found in the Etosha National Park and five at Palmwag/Klip River since January.

Four Namibian nationals arrested in December for alleged poaching a rhino at Klip River have also been linked, through investigations, to some of the carcasses found near Klip River this year, she added.

Shikwambi said then that the cases are enjoying the attention of the Rhino Poaching Investigation Task Team, which is comprised of seasoned detectives.

Last August Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta questioned the conduct of prosecutors who recommend bail for suspected poachers, while crucial investigations are still ongoing.

Shifeta said it is frustrating for law enforcement officials, who are working tirelessly to nab poachers, when prosecutors propose bail for suspects: “We’ve arrested a lot of people, including a police officer in Windhoek. I understand the police officer was given bail of N$25 000 and I asked why he was given bail. The prosecutors are supposed to deny bail. I heard they proposed bail on two occasions.

In fact they are only supposed to remand suspects. We’re getting suspicious about some of these prosecutors, but we’re still investigating.”

In January Shifeta said the country continues to protect its animals as best it can and noted that at least half of the world’s black rhino population is found in Namibia.

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