By ALBERTINA NAKALE – New Era
Inspector General of the Namibian police Sebastian Ndeitunga has revealed that the force is deploying 280 of its members, selected from across the country on a three-month rotation basis, into national parks to assist with anti-poaching operations.
The members are being deployed in the Palmwag concession, Etosha and Bwabwata national parks where poaching of elephants and rhinos have been on the increase.
Ndeitunga made the remarks on Friday during an awareness workshop on wildlife legislation and prosecution.
He said the aim of the deployment of these members is to reinforce and complement the anti-poaching and patrol efforts of rangers and wardens of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET).
Ndeitunga noted that the ongoing incidents of rhinos and elephant poaching and the illegal trade in their products, especially rhino horns and elephant tusks in Namibia, has prompted the police force to closely interact and coordinate with the environment ministry who are the custodians of these specially protected game and the legislation which governs their protection.
“The Namibian police force is committed to join hands in the fight against wildlife crime and wish to stress the need for constant consultation and cooperation. The joint Nampol and MET, Blue rhino task team is a clear sign of our willingness to share resources and collectively address the challenges we are facing with this poaching phenomena,” he noted.
He applauded the ministry of environment for the revisiting of the current wildlife legislation, which resulted in the much-needed amendments.
The ministry reviewed the Nature Conservation Ordinance No. 4 of 1975 wherein fines and penalties for poaching and other related wildlife crimes were increased to enhance their deterrent effect.
The revised fines, which came into force in June this year, substantially increase the penalties for the illegal hunting of elephant or rhino, from a maximum fine of N$200,000 to a maximum of N$25 million.
The potential imprisonment which can be imposed along with the fine was increased from 20 to 25 years.
The penalties for illegal hunting of any other “specially protected game” (which includes zebra, giraffe, klipspringer, impala and hippo) were increased from a maximum fine of N$20,000 to a maximum fine of N$10 million, with the maximum potential imprisonment raised from five to 10 years. These penalties apply only for first convictions.
In the case of subsequent convictions for hunting elephant, rhino or specially protected game, the maximum fine goes up to N$50 million, and can be combined with imprisonment of up to 40 years.
The penalties for illegal hunting of “protected game” have also been increased.
This category of game covers a wide range of animals, including eland, blue wildebeest, steenbok, dik-dik, duiker and many other bucks.
It also includes the big cats (lion, leopard and cheetah) as well as many reptiles (such as python, crocodile and tortoise) and scaly anteaters, better known as pangolins.