Windhoek-The Elephant Tusk Bwabwata Joint Operation members arrested three suspects – two Angolans and one Namibian – after they were found selling 13 elephant tusks at Bwabwata in Kavango East Region.
The incident happened on Tuesday at about 23h45 at Tjova village, Mukwe district, about 55 kilometres from Divundu heading west.
Deputy Commissioner William Peter, who is second in command of the Elephant Tusk Bwabwata Joint Operation, said the suspects crossed from Angola but it was unclear if the origin of the seized elephant tusks is Angola or Namibia.
The Elephant Tusk Bwabwata Joint Operation was established between 2012 and 2013, mainly targeting elephant poachers. Bwabwata is a national park.
Currently the task force is headed by the Zambezi Regional Police Commander, Commissioner Boniface Mukendwa.
The three suspects are being detained at Divundu Police Station and have been charged with contravention of the Nature Conservation Act 9/2008 and Ordinance 4 of 1975, as well as contravention of the Immigration Control Act as they entered Namibia without valid documents.
The police managed to arrest three suspects, while two others bolted from the scene.
“The two managed to run away during the time of the arrests and the police are kindly requesting information from the community that may lead to their arrest,” said the deputy commissioner, adding that it is not yet known what nationality they are.
Deputy Commissioner Peter said the gang were caught after they tried to sell the tusks.
“The community tipped off members of the operation, which is why we managed to succeed in arresting those criminals.
“We are now requesting the public to come forward with information that would lead to the arrests of the two criminals that are on the run,” said the deputy commissioner.
The names of the three men could not be released pending their appearance in the Rundu Magistrate’s Court today or tomorrow.
“We are further calling on our fellow community members to provide more information about illegal hunting,” said Peter.
“Further, we also call on anyone with information about people who are still in unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, who do not want to voluntarily surrender them to the police, to report them.”
It is suspected that illegal firearms are being used for illegal hunting.
Contacted for comment the public relations officer in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Romeo Muyunda, confirmed the incident, saying 13 elephant tusks have been seized in Kavango East.
He also revealed that last year alone 101 elephants were poached illegally countrywide and this year there was already a single incident of elephant poaching, bringing the figure to 102 from 2016 to date.
Last year 63 rhinos were poached countrywide and this year at least one was butchered at a game farm near Otjiwarongo.