UNDP Namibia supports governments fight against poaching

As poaching becomes a growing global concern, UNDP Namibia in an effort to support the Government of Namibia has invested N$84 million (US$6m) towards anti-poaching efforts in Namibia over a period of ten years.

The Government of Namibia has been very proactive and has aggressively tackled poaching through the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. It is estimated that over N$ 1 billion has been spent in anti-poaching efforts since the operation started almost two years ago in December 2014.

In 2016 seven rhinos were poached in the Etosha National Park and six elephants were poached in the Bwabwata National Park. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism continues to work with the Namibian Police Force and other agencies in combating illegal hunting of wildlife, illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta recently highlighted the size of the Etosha National Park, the mountainous and rough terrain areas and the shortage of manpower, as some of the main challenges government faces in combating poaching.

The country has experienced unprecedented levels of poaching with 24 rhinos having been poached in 2014 and 8 in 2015. This year, so far 34 rhino carcasses have been discovered. In the north-eastern region of Namibia, 91 elephants were poached in 2015 compared to 78 in 2014. It is estimated to date that seven elephants have been poached in 2016.

UNDP Namibia has supported the Government with anti-poaching efforts through the UNDP-GEF projects, the Protected Areas System Strengthening (PASS) and the Namibia Protected Landscape Initiative (NAMPLACE) projects. PASS and NAMPLACE collaborated with the Game Product Trust Fund (GPTF) and the German-funded NAMPARKS project to augment and upgrade law enforcement equipment for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

The support by UNDP and other development partners assisted the Ministry and stakeholders to enhance anti-poaching coordination, monitoring and surveillance capacities, the response to poaching incidences and crime scene investigation including seizure of wildlife and wildlife products.

This was made possible in part by providing 3 all terrain vehicles ( aka amphibious boats), 2 Hoovers, water tanks and water tank trailers for water provision at hide-outs, road signs, metal detectors to improve crime scene investigation and collection of evidence, satellite phones, tents and camping gear, and a game viewing hide (at Santika, Bwabwata national park).

The infrastructure for the Anti-Poaching and Wildlife Crime Enforcement training camp has been completed near Waterberg. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has started the process of recruiting a suitable candidate to head the country’s anti-poaching unit, while about 500 people will be employed to help fight elephant and rhino poachers.  Despite this, the country still lacks half the resources that are required to face this serious and escalating challenge.

The Director of Wildlife and Parks, Mr. Colgar Sikopo, recently confirmed that the Draft National Strategy on Wildlife Protection and Law Enforcement 2016 to 2020 was discussed at a closed session with leaders from Namibia’s conservancies during the Conservancies Forum.

The objective of the strategy is to establish, common approaches for the protection and conservation of wildlife within the country and to ensure the effective enforcement of laws governing the wildlife resources. The specific objectives of the strategy will be to protect wildlife from poaching, promote enforcement of wildlife laws in the country and neighboring states and ensure that field staff including community game guards are conversant with patrols, arrests, seizures and proper collection of scene of the crime information. It will also aim to strengthen law enforcement activities and better prepare the ministry against syndicates of wildlife poaching.

The director also said that communities have an important role to play in combating poaching in Namibia.

Earlier this year the Minister of Environment and Tourism launched the Game Utilization Policy in Protected Areas and on State land.  This policy was launched to promote management of natural resources for the enhancement of ecosystem conservation and socio-economic development. As well as

It is further expected to create improved communication skills and enhance mutual understanding between park management authorities, neighbors and resident communities, to meet the country’s national and international commitments to biodiversity conservation, while taking into account the rights and development needs of the people.