Kashihakumwa to head new anti-poaching unit

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Ndahangwapo Kashihakumwa

Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-Government has officially announced the appointment of retired Oshana regional police commander Ndahangwapo Kashihakumwa as the head of the newly established anti-poaching unit.

Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta yesterday announced that the head of the Wildlife Protection Service was appointed with effect from August 1.

He said the appointment is a move in the right direction, given Commissioner Kashihakumwa’s background in security matters, crime prevention, criminal investigation and intelligence-led operations.

“We believe his vast experience and abilities will help the ministry and the country in the fight against poaching. Commissioner Kashihakumwa is a trained soldier with experience in military issues. He is a trained police officer with experience in police and policing work. He is a trained commander, trained leader and he is also trained in intelligence gathering,” Shifeta stated.

However, Shifeta said this was not to insinuate that the responsibility to fight poaching was now solely in his hands and that of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and reiterated his call to all Namibians to join them fight against poaching.

“We believe that it is only through collective efforts that we can eliminate this evil that is robbing us of our valuable natural resources. We should all do everything possible in our different capacities to complement existing efforts by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Namibian Police Force, the Namibian Defense Force and other entities,” he urged.

Shifeta said Kashihakumwa does not need to be reminded of how difficult his task is, “but we are confident that he will emerge victorious.”

He said Namibia’s success stories on wildlife management have been threatened by the current poaching trends in the country and noted that Namibia was initially spared during the first few years of the present wildlife crime crisis, but since 2013 rhino and elephant poaching has increased.

With the current situation, he said Cabinet approved that the MET re-organise the existing staff set-up to have a dedicated anti-poaching unit to exclusively deal with anti-poaching activities.

Wildlife and tourism combined have become some of the biggest contributors to the national economy and an important source of employment in Namibia. Undoubtedly, Shifeta said, this makes Namibia a global leader in innovative wildlife conservation and management.

He said the Directorate of Wildlife and National Parks was re-organised to create the anti-poaching unit, which was approved by the Public Service Commission, with a staff structure consisting of 495 members.

The unit, referred to as the Wildlife Protection Services Division will be headed by a deputy director. It is a division within the Directorate of Wildlife and National Parks in the MET that will provide support for anti-poaching work through active patrols, surveillance, investigations, on-the-job training and retraining, communication and adaptive management.

Specific main functions of the division will include the protection of wildlife, mainly rhinos and elephants, from poaching.

It also aims to promote the enforcement of wildlife laws in the country and with neighbouring states and build capacity for wildlife protection, conservation and enforcement of wildlife laws.

It will also strengthen law enforcement activities and better prepare the MET for invasion of Namibia by syndicated forms of wildlife poaching, and conduct arrests, seizures and the proper collection of scene of the crime evidence in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies.

It further aims to enhance the effective prevention of wildlife crime and the enforcement of national wildlife protection legislation in Namibia in collaboration with other partners and line ministries.

Shifeta said the division would work closely with the police Force, defense force, intelligence services, the Office of the Prosecutor General, the Community Game Guard System through the Conservancy Programme, and other stakeholders in wildlife protection.

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