Despite Cabinet’s 2014 resolution to allow the country’s security forces to be involved in the fight against poaching and other crimes threatening the country’s wildlife, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has not roped in any armed forces yet.
In 2014, the then MET minister Uahekua Herunga had announced that Cabinet had granted permission to allow the country’s security forces to be involved in the fight against poaching and other wildlife crimes.
Of late, the public have been questioning why MET is not requesting the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) to avail some soldiers – whom they say are idle – in national parks to assist with anti-poaching activities as done in neighbouring Botswana.
When approached for comment yesterday the ministry’s spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, said: “No, we are not considering the deployment of soldiers at the moment.”
However, he said the ministry has a good working relationship with the NDF and law enforcement agencies such as the Namibian Police and Namibia Central Intelligence Services, among others, in the fight against poaching.
Asked on the estimates of the rhino population in Namibia, he said that unfortunately the ministry cannot give such information for security reasons.
“But from near extinction in the 1960s, Namibia now has the largest free-ranging population of black rhinos in the world,” he noted.
According to him, Namibia’s elephant population is currently between 20 000 – 25 000.
Asked on how many rhinos (black and white) and elephants have been poached, Muyunda said 16 rhinos and 28 elephants were killed this year alone.
Regarding drone patrols he said the unmanned aerial vehicle industry in Namibia is in a limbo because of the absence of clear laws surrounding the operation of drones in the country.
There is currently no information on foreign nationals visiting Namibia who wish to bring drones into the country for use during their holidays, such as viewing birds nesting in normally inaccessible locations, closely observing wildlife without disrupting their natural activities or photographing the Namibian landscape from above.
When asked how far this process is and can visitors bring drones into the country for such purposes, he said the ministry currently regulates filming in national parks and protected areas.
“However, we do not allow the use of drones unless the request is submitted in advance for the ministry’s consideration,” he said.
Moreover, Muyunda stated the ministry employs a number of strategies to fight poaching and the use of specific techniques and technology is one of the approaches.
“However, we cannot divulge any further details as to which techniques we are using as it might have implications for our security and anti-poaching efforts,” he said.