Since March the Namibian police have confiscated a total of 57 elephant tusks, 60 unlicensed firearms and 151 rounds of ammunition, in the course of which 16 persons were arrested, the police revealed on Wednesday.
Deputy Police Inspector General for Operations James Tjivikua, speaking of the police’s anti-poaching activities, said also they also seized a vehicle used in suspected illicit activities.
Further, he said, during intensive foot and vehicle patrols, as well as an aerial game count in the operation areas, they discovered 32 elephant carcasses. On closer inspection, it was found that the majority of carcasses were relatively old.
It was later confirmed that 11 of the carcasses were in fact poached during unspecified periods and that the remaining 21 elephants died as result of natural mortality.
Tjivikua, who is undertaking regional visits to Kavango East and Zambezi on the ongoing anti-poaching campaign, ‘Operation Elephant Tusk’ in the Bwabwata, Nkasa Rupara and Mudumo national parks, said the work is progressing well and will continue unabated.
Following the latest incidents wherein four elephants were killed on Thursday night at Kasika Conservancy in the Zambezi Region, preliminary investigations show that the suspects later crossed into Zambia and it is thus assumed that the perpetrators are Zambian nationals.
This was said by Ministry of Environment and Tourism spokesperson Romeo Muyunda, who described the escalating number of poaching cases as “unfortunate”. Among the four poached elephants at Kasika Village, east of Katima Mulilo, two were elephant bulls and two elephant cows.
Muyunda confirmed that the ministry’s staff responded rapidly to the most recent incident and found that all the tusks had been removed from the elephant.
Tjivikua attributed the problem in the Zambezi Region to the length of Namibia’s unfenced borders with Zambia and Botswana. As the elephant population is not confined by national boundaries there is constant movement of large herds between neighbouring countries.
‘This tragic incident has necessitated the law enforcement agencies to re-strategise their deployment strategy and the modus operandi. This case is under intense investigation,” he said.
He moreover urged the public to continue providing information related to poaching activities to the police and environment ministry officials, while giving assurances that such information will be treated with a high degree of confidentiality. “We must remain vigilant and continue to protect our heritage, as poaching is detrimental to our economy,” he said.
The police have once again put up a reward of N$60 000 for any reliable information leading to the arrest of people involved in poaching activities.
Operation Elephant Tusk, that started on June 16 and concludes today was headed by Kavango East Police Regional Commander Johanna Ngondo.
The next phase, under the leadership of Zambezi Police Regional Commander Boniface Mukendwa, is due to start Friday and end on December 15.